SUVs, jeeps top vehicle theft list in Chandigarh

January 1st, 2009 - 1:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Jan 1 (IANS) Chandigarh may have one of the highest vehicle densities in the country among cities, but there is a dubious distinction attached to it as well. The city is fast emerging as a favourite target for vehicle thieves, especially those eyeing sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and jeeps.In the well-protected city, nearly 1,100 motor vehicle thefts have been reported in 2008 alone - meaning that three vehicles were stolen every day.

The city has one of the highest vehicle densities among cities in the country - 700,000 registered for a population of 1.1 million residents.

Most of the thefts - 65 percent - are taking place during the night, indicating that vigilance by the police during night hours is lax.

“Vehicle theft is one of our major problems. We have observed that most of the culprits who indulge in vehicle thefts are well-versed with Chandigarh roads and immediately take the vehicle out of the city. They work in small groups and immediately hand over the vehicle to some other party waiting for them outside the city,” Senior Superintendent of Police S.S. Srivastava told IANS.

Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, is surrounded by both states. Once the stolen vehicle is out of the Union Territory’s area, the Chandigarh police become dependent on the police from other states to trace vehicles and a lot of time is lost in communicating. By that time, most stolen vehicles cannot be found.

Among the four-wheelers, SUVs like Scorpios, Tata Safaris and Mahindra Balero jeeps are the ones stolen most often. Foreign vehicles like Mitsubishi Pajeros and Mercedes cars have also been targeted by auto thieves in the neighbouring towns of Mohali (Punjab) and Panchkula (Haryana).

“In many cases, the police get information late. City residents can be more alert on this front. They should lock their vehicles properly and park them at appropriate places,” said Srivastava.

But residents are not ready to buy the police theory that vehicle thieves are smarter.

“They seem to be providing token security to common people and areas. The VIPs and their localities are so well-guarded. If thieves know the roads to get out of the city, why can’t the police plug them? After all, how many roads go out of the city?” asked Sector 18 resident Tarunveer.

Police trail of the stolen vehicles has led them to markets in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and even Nepal.

The recovery rate of the stolen vehicles is not even 10 percent, police officials here admit.

What embarrassed the Chandigarh police in recent months was the fact that even two police Gypsy jeeps were stolen by thieves in April-May this year. One of these belonged to the VIP security squadron of the police.

The vehicles were stolen within a fortnight of each other. One of them was stolen from the well-guarded police lines complex in Sector 26 here. Only one of those vehicles was recovered, months later.

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