Bengaluru: Desperation driving robberies as morning shoppers targeted | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: Megharaj P DSouza, a resident of Cox Town, was walking down Mosque Road around 7.45am last week to buy vegetables when two men on a bike snatched his mobile phone and sped away.
Kengeri police on Wednesday caught five youths who posed as policemen and robbed a man of valuables worth Rs 1 lakh. The accused included a civil engineer, a computer operator and their accomplice who worked in the construction business.
All three had lost their livelihood in the lockdown and told police the victim owed money to one of them and they were planning to split it up.
If the food queues in cities across Karnataka are a stark reminder of the all-pervading hunger in the second Covid wave, robberies and snatchings are opening up a dark side. Police say desperate out-of-work youths are turning to crime and grabbing what they can get hold of – gold chains, mobile phones, wallets — targeting the lockdown relaxation window from 6am to 10am when people step out to purchase groceries and other essentials and are in a rush. It is also the time when police scrutiny is most relaxed.
Retired police officer SK Umesh says crime in the city can only be expected to increase post-lockdown. “Unemployment and financial distress are rampant among youth, prompting them to take to crime. With the lockdown in place and checkpoints everywhere, it might not be easy to commit crimes such as robberies for most part of the day. But post-lockdown, there is a high chance crime will go up,” he said.
During the lockdown last year, in Bengaluru, 31 robberies and seven incidents of chain snatching were reported in 37 days. This year, in 34 days till June, Bengaluru city reported 28 robberies and five chain-snatchings. Police say the numbers are conservative.
“A majority of the robberies involve snatching of mobile phones and not all incidents are being reported as people do not want to come to the police station the prevailing Covid-19 situation and lockdown,” a police officer said. “They also fear the hassles of following up on complaints.”
Joint commissioner of police (crime) Sandeep Patil maintained that crime has gone down in recent months. “Crime in general has reduced in Bengaluru as there is less scope for offenders, particularly inter-state robbers, to operate. There is a large presence of police and barricades on the roads for lockdown enforcement.”
With everything moving to the virtual mode, crime too has picked up pace online, police point out. While the first wave was dominated by cyber-criminals promising unheard-of cures for Covid-19, the second wave has seen cyber frauds target unwitting patients and relatives by promising remdesivir, imported vaccine and oxygen concentrators.

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Sagar Biswas

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