Radha Sreevaran and her husband had just stepped into the two-tier AC compartment on a train at the Bangalore City railway station last week when three men offered to help them with their luggage. Soon after, the couple realised that Mr. Sreevaran’s mobile phone was missing from his pocket.
“It was just about five seconds after they left the compartment that we realised the phone was missing. The three men were wearing uniforms and looked like cleaners. The phone had been gifted to my husband exactly a month ago,” said Ms. Sreevaran, recounting the theft.
The cleaners were later summoned by the ticket collector (TC) on the train and Ms. Sreevaran recognised two of them. She filed a complaint with the Bangarpet police, where the train stopped next, and the two men were detained by the police for questioning.
The police are yet to ascertain whether the men were indeed involved in the theft.
There have been several incidents like this at the City railway station, be it on trains or on the railway platforms. Passengers have complained of losing their luggage, laptops, wallets and briefcases.
Some months ago, an NRI lodged a complaint with the railway police after losing his briefcase, containing foreign currencies among other valuables. He too fell prey to an attention diversion tactic. “A man drew my attention to a Rs. 10 note fallen near the ticket counter while I was speaking on the mobile phone. Unconsciously, I bent to pick up the note. When I turned around, my luggage was missing.”
The Government Railway Police (GRP) at the City railway station has registered 164 cases this year so far. These include 15 in August and seven in September so far. Picking pockets and suitcase lifting accounted for most cases. About 56 cases pertained to theft while eight were cases of chain-snatching.
So far this year, 35 arrests have been made and 22 high-end mobile phones recovered.
In 2012, 213 cases were registered.
However, these figures may only be a fraction of the actual crimes, as many go unreported. “Not all passengers come forward to file a complaint,” a Railway police official said.