Smartphone Thefts on Gujarat Trains Surge, Railway Police Ramp Up Security

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Smartphone Thefts on Gujarat Trains Surge, Railway Police Ramp Up Security

| Updated: July 9, 2024 20:48

Train robbers have shifted their focus from lifting passengers’ bags to stealing premium smartphones. Over the past 10 months, gangs operating exclusively on trains in central and south Gujarat have made off with smartphones worth a staggering ₹3.84 crore.

Traditionally, these gangs would target bags and purses containing valuables. However, the risk associated with bag theft—waiting for the train to slow down and the likelihood of getting caught—has prompted a change in strategy. With most railway stations now equipped with CCTV cameras, stealing bags has become increasingly difficult. Instead, the thieves have turned their attention to smartphones, which are easier to snatch and conceal.

“Passengers, especially those in air-conditioned coaches, often carry expensive smartphones,” explains Saroj Kumari, superintendent of police at Western Railway (WR). “Stealing a phone and slipping it into a pocket is far simpler than lifting a bag.”

Between August 2023 and May 2024, a staggering 1,386 mobile phones were stolen from different trains, dwarfing the value of other stolen items. The railway police, along with the Railway Protection Force (RPF), are actively patrolling coaches to prevent such incidents.

The modus operandi of the thieves varies. Sometimes, they take advantage of passengers who leave their smartphones unattended while charging or sleeping. Pickpockets also target phones kept in bags or pockets. Passengers are urged to remain vigilant and safeguard their valuables.

The stolen phones are then sold at discounted rates in different states. Expensive iPhones are particularly sought after by the gangs due to their higher resale value.

Railway police treat each mobile phone theft seriously, registering a separate First Information Report (FIR) for every stolen device. Tracking the stolen phones via their IMEI numbers is a challenging task, especially as they change hands multiple times across state borders.

Despite the odds, the Western Railway police have successfully recovered 861 stolen mobile phones, valued at ₹2.13 crore, returning them to their rightful owners. Approximately 250 individuals have been arrested in connection with these thefts.

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