22,920 mobile thefts on Mumbai train till Aug: Cops’ efforts derailed?

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Mumbai (HT): Around 22,920 cases of mobile theft have been registered till August this year, with 2,160 arrests by the railway protection force (RPF), government railway police (GRP) so far.
Even as GRP has been relentless in their crackdown on local mobile thieves and members of the ‘fatka’ gang, there has been a spurt in mobile thefts this year, particularly by those who come to the city from outside the state, said GRP officials.
Since January 2016, commuters have lost belongings collectively worth Rs.47.72 crores — which amounts to an average of Rs.50,000 per day. Of this, Rs.4.24 crore worth of property has been recovered.
“The cases of mobile phone thefts have increased over the past two years because cases are now being registered as first information reports (FIRs) instead of missing cases,” said Niket Kaushik, commissioner of police, GRP.
Each gang has around four members who board the train at a time. The man in charge of carrying out the actual theft is known as the ‘machine.’ The rest, in charge of covering for the ‘machine’ by diverting commuters’ attention and passing the stolen phone along, are called ‘chappad.’ The gang members position themselves such that within minutes of the robbery, the phone is passed along to either the next compartment or outside the train. The gang members usually rent out a room either in a lodge or a slum pocket for one month, before shifting base to another lodge.
The mobile phones are then sold in Nepal or Bangladesh. These countries are chosen as Indian authorities cannot trace phones in these countries using the international mobile equipment identity (IMEI), a unique number used for identification.
Some phones are also sold to unsuspecting users within the country, and are used for committing cybercrimes.

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