Despite being under lockdown for over two months now, the citizens of Pune are still living with the fear of getting robbed with every passing day. An alarming rate of robberies has been reported across the city. In the last 15 days, two bikes and three four-wheelers were stolen, and many robbery incidents have been reported in Hadapsar, Kondhwa, Undri, Mohammadwadi and Wanawadi. In May, at least 11 house break-ins, 16 vehicle thefts and six thefts have been reported from places all around the city.
The targets of these robbers have usually been locked flats. As the police are mostly concerned with pandemic related issues, citizens have taken the responsibility of busting these robbers themselves by forming WhatsApp groups to spread awareness and even chasing thieves.
One such incident happened in Mohammadwadi area where a group of youths spotted a gang of three burglars with suspicious movements in the area, intending to rob houses. Although the thieves managed to escape, the residents had followed them for over an hour. Another such incident took place in Undri where robbers were caught breaking into locked houses in CCTV footage. On Friday, residents of Neelay Apartments in Fatima Nagar witnessed the robbery and said that the thieves looked highly sophisticated and carried equipment of the same kind. Similar incidents have been spotted in multiple other places, leaving the citizens with increasing amounts of fear.
These thieves have been identified as people with previous criminal records, bailed out of jail. As the lockdown gets extended to its 5th period, the anti-social activities take a toll on the police and administration.
On May 29, the residents of Neelay Apartments said that the burglars were spotted around 2.30 am. The burglars were successful in escaping because the police reached the spot much later. Vaibhav Bhaindarkar, a resident of the apartment said, "I woke up when I heard a few pet dogs in the building barking a lot. From my own window, I spotted four masked burglars on two bikes. They jumped over our locked gates and expertly turned over the passage tube light. My ground floor neighbour saw them through her grill door, using some very sharp equipment to break the latch of the closed flat rapidly."
They did not shout to call the watchman because they feared he could get harmed by the goons. Bhaindarkar also said that the cops reached 20 minutes after he called them while the robbers left within 5 minutes. The owner of the flat which the robbers broke into said no cash or jewellery was there to be stolen.
Social activist Raju Bhintade of Undri area has formed a WhatsApp group along with cops and 20 other local youths to tackle robbery which has been rising lately in the area. Bhintade said, "We are creating awareness and giving people safety tips. We have given our contact numbers to societies to call at any time. Cops can't look into every issue. We are trying to help them. There are some 150 in the area. Due to the outbreak, many people have left for their native places, and their flats are shut. We see that burglars target these homes at night. We even found some CCTV footage in which three youths were seen roaming around on a bike with a bag. Two days ago, they attempted to enter society, but a pet dog made a huge racket, and they fled. We keep informing people in our group to share such suspicions if they come across them."
Another break-in case took place in Mohammadwadi where a group of three people broke into a laptop and mobile shop. Hanumant Ghule, who also chased burglars, said that the burglars attempted to break into at least of three houses. Ghule, along with few other youths, followed the thieves from Mohammadwadi to Nyati Estate, Handewadi and Delhi Public School. They have filed a complaint.
Sachin Inchure reported a robbery at his cousin's house in Hadapsar, the robbers have looted gold jewellery. Vaishali Chaudhari reported another break-in and loot of gold jewellery worth 60,000-70,000 in Hadapsar. The loot took place in her brother, Lalit Borde's house who is out of town due to the lockdown.
Charan Kadam, a resident of Hadapsar, reported a robbery in his house along with the bike's number he saw from the CCTV footage, he also said that no action has been taken yet. Hadapsar police station has three cases filed under IPC's section 454, 457 and 380.
After many such incidents, DCP Suhas Bawche has said, "This is a challenging situation for cops, but we have deployed teams and they have been working on the robberies."