KARACHI: Mobile phone snatching incidents increased in the outgoing year of 2015 as compared to the previous year despite the Rangers-led targeted operation, though it helped in curbing major crimes in the metropolis.

“In the year 2014, around 29,000 cases of mobile phones theft or snatching were reported while the number increased to 32,000 during this year,” said Zubair Habib, the newly appointed chief of the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), in his first interaction with the media at Governor House on Thursday after assuming charge.

Mr Habib said the operation helped in bringing down the number of major crimes significantly.

Corroborating his statement with figures, he said the reported cases of four-wheelers theft and snatching at gunpoint decreased from last year’s 2,757 to 1542 during the current year, indicating nearly a 50 per cent drop. He said kidnap for ransom cases decreased from 110 in 2014 to only 21 so far this year, while targeted killing incidents in the city dropped to 618 during the current year from around 1,500 recorded last year.

Since 2011, he said, the CPLC had handled a total of 3,563 extortion cases. However, he did not share this year’s data about extortion cases with the media.

“Such a significant reduction in crimes reflected better performance of the Karachi operation,” the CPLC chief said, adding that it was perhaps for this reason that people supported the Rangers-led operation.

Crime pattern

Mr Habib said the CPLC due to its extensive crime database had the capability to assess emerging patterns of crimes. The facility could help the law-enforcement agencies in busting gangs of kidnappers, robbers, extortionists and vehicle thieves.

Citing a couple of street crime patterns, the CPLC chief said criminals mostly started street crimes from 1pm to 2pm and the peak time was 11pm. About car theft, he said white colour vehicles appeared to be their favourite as they could easily be disguised.The availability of comprehensive reports using latest software tools being developed continuously at the CPLC for the stakeholders had also helped the agencies in taking proactive measures and take effective actions to curb crime in Karachi, he added.

Mr Habib said rising crime and malpractices in certain departments compelled the CPLC to prepare a database of jail inmates. He said the committee developed a database of prisoners in Karachi Central and Landhi jails. He said biometrics and digital photos available with the CPLC would help in identifying the hardcore criminals and those committing crimes under fictitious name. The committee would conduct such an exercise in other prisons of the province next year, he added.

He claimed that the CPLC had played a pivotal role in ensuring that no innocent person or suspect was kept under illegal detention without the registration of an FIR by police. He said the CPLC had indigenously developed facial sketching software that was available at all CPLC offices. More than 1,500 sketches were made every year with the help of the software, he said, adding that quite a few notorious criminals / terrorists had been apprehended by law-enforcement agencies through the use of these sketches.

Coordination with Rangers, Nadra

In reply to a question, he said that the CPLC was working in close coordination with the Rangers also. “We work in coordination with the Rangers and several cases were being jointly handled by the CPLC and Rangers,” he said.

Mr Habib said that Rangers director general Maj Gen Bilal Akbar had recently visited the CPLC office followed by a visit of 14 trainee officials of the paramilitary force to their office. “There is no controversy between the Rangers and CPLC, our goal is same and we work jointly,” he added.

“If any misunderstanding existed in the past, you won’t find its traces now,” believed Mr Habib.

He said the CPLC in collaboration with the Edhi Foundation and Chippa, Karachi had initiated a project called “Identification of Unknown Dead Bodies.” He said unidentified dead bodies were being identified through the biometric scan technology by utilising the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) record. The CPLC had established a special desk at the Edhi morgue for this purpose, while a similar set-up was being established at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, he said. The cooperation being extended by Nadra in this regard was exemplary, he added.

Mr Habib said the CPLC also established ‘Neighbourhood Care’ centres in at least half a dozen areas of the metropolis where crimes had been reduced up to 90pc and they planned to set up more such centres.

Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2015