By Amit Ranjan:
Yesterday while I was traveling from Malad to Andheri, my phone was pickpocketed. In my 25 years, I have traveled the length and breadth of this country but this was the first time that something of this sort happened to me. And trust me; this could happen to any one of us. Yes, your first reaction would be that I should have been more careful. But in my defense, I am quite attentive all the time. I know the ritual of keeping a tab of your wallet and phone when you are at a crowded place.
The local from Malad to Andheri, scheduled at 7:06 PM, was late, and this led to overcrowding at the station. I had my ‘crowd mode’ on and was tracking my valuables the whole time. My wallet was in my bag, and my phone was in my pocket. Then came the train. A swarm of humanity got down, and another one rushed to get in. I was one of those trying to find my place in the already crowded Mumbai local.
As I got on, I felt something around the front pocket of my jeans. I put my hands on my pocket only to find my phone gone already. I raised an alarm. I tried calling, but the phone had already been switched off. I immediately got down and reported the incident to a constable at the police post in Malad. He wrote down my name and address, and allotted me a serial number, 13.
13 is an unlucky number. Hotels don’t have any rooms with that number. I was intrigued by this number for a lot of other reasons. This number meant that 13 people had reported the loss of mobile that day at the Malad station. And for every reported case, there would be many more that go unreported. It is very likely that I was the 13th person to report the loss of a mobile to that constable that day. But let’s not be very optimistic and assume that this was only the 13th incident of the day. Malad is one of the less populous stations of Mumbai local. Even if we assume that every local station reports ten mobile thefts every day, the total comes down to 1200 mobiles every day at 120 stations.
And till now we have only accounted for the theft of mobile phones, there are also wallets, necklaces, and other valuables being stolen every day. However, I would like to stick to mobile phones for two reasons – first, I loved my phone and second, each phone comes with a unique IMEI number (IMEI Number for my dual Sim phone was 352649074836725, 352649074836733 ), and if a strong surveillance system is put in place, every stolen phone can be tracked the moment they are switched on.
The police constable at the Malad Station told me that the entire area came under Borivali Railways Police Station and hence I should travel to the Borivali Police Station with my original bill and lodge a complaint. He said that I could do that any time in the week. But I know, even if I were told to run 50 km to get my phone, I would have done that without a second thought. Firstly, I ran all over the place to locate a cyber cafe. Since I had purchased my phone through Flipkart getting the invoice was not difficult. I then ran to Borivali Police station. I traveled almost 10 km, from Malad to Borivali, and most of it was covered through a local train.
The moment I entered the police station, I was greeted by a lady constable. Alongside her were two young people who were noting down something. I could recognize the Flipkart invoice that one of them had. Soon, I realized that they too had lost their phones while boarding a train, probably at Borivali.
At the Police Station, I was given an FIR to copy the format for my complaint. From this FIR, I realized that the third gentleman had lost his phone, a Samsung Galaxy Grand, at Borivali just a few hours before me. He too lost it while boarding an overcrowded train. Did I mention that my sister lost her phone Moto G (2nd generation) earlier this year in Mumbai?
What I am getting at is that mobile theft is an organized crime in Mumbai locals, and they might all be connected to a particular network of thieves. Police should leverage the fact that phones can be tracked, unlike any other valuable items. Every stolen phone can be located if theft was considered at par with other serious crimes. The idea is not only to get the stolen phones back but also to give a clear message that all pickpockets can be nabbed and punished. Let’s make the Mumbai local ride stress free and joyous.