An old crime has returned to haunt Bengaluru — gangs roaming around in cars are targeting people returning from work, or walking/riding alone, late at night. The notoriety lies in the way these gangs are targeting people – either by luring them with a drop home on “share-a-cab basis” with the co-passengers being gang members, or waylaying those found walking alone on the roads.
This modus operandi of using a four-wheeler to either trap or directly assault an innocent victim was quite common between 2010 and 2013, when a case was reported almost every day.
The hot spots then were Ballari Road, Tumakuru Road, Hosuru Road, JP Nagar and adjoining areas.
After 2013, there was a sharp decline in these crimes with police creating awareness among the people about the lack of safety in arbitrarily travelling in cabs by sharing them with unknown co-passengers or even in other private vehicles.
However, now with taxi aggregators coming strongly on the scene, miscreants are using non-aggregator taxis to target unsuspecting people by luring them with drops while accomplices pose as co-passengers, all ready to rob the innocent person taking the bait.
Those falling prey to these gangs of criminals are mainly techies, BPO/call centre employees, or businessmen – people who are returning home from work late in the night when there is no public transport.
Additional commissioner of police (East) Hemanth Nimbalkar said, “With the recent cases being registered in the city, we have noticed people getting into private vehicles offering them drops, especially during the night and become victims of robbery. We advise people not to get into such vehicles at any cost.”
The return of this crime trend was a little hard to detect as many of the victims had complained that they were robbed by miscreants while walking by the roadside, “but they don’t inform the police the fact that they were robbed after miscreants promised them a drop,” Nimbalkar said.
In fact, the police have found that a lack of public transport late in the night forced many employees returning home to opt for a drop on share-a-cab basis as the quickest way to reach home. But they fail to realise that they could reach their destination minus their valuables, and in some cases, even with wounds after gang members (posing as co-passengers) assault them.
Although the police do check vehicles that move around in a manner rousing suspicion, it is practically impossible to tell one from the other with about 15,000 cabs plying around in the nights on the city roads. Also, they find it difficult to put a finger on any particular car to decide it is the one driven around by the gangs.
It has also been noticed that night checks by the city police often do not stop yellow-board vehicles, meaning cabs. Senior police officials have suggested that the safest way is to book cabs through taxi aggregators using the apps or take public transport if it is available after 10 pm.
Additional commissioner of police (West) Malini Krishnamurthy sought to be reassuring when she said, “Whether it is a single gang or different gangs, it may be car or bikes, we take every case seriously; and we have got clues on the robberies committed by car gangs in the south division and will arrest the miscreants at the earliest.”
Originally Published in the India Times