KARACHI: The Citizens-Police Liaison Committee has identified 60 places in the sprawling metropolis where incidents of street crimes, particularly snatching of mobile phones, have increased alarmingly, it emerged on Sunday.

Law-enforcement officials believed that with the identification of the 60 “hot spots” the area police could manage to cut the number, if not curb the menace entirely, of street crimes by effective patrolling and consistent vigilance.

A comprehensive data prepared by the CPLC showed how the busy and densely populated neighbourhoods had become hotspots for criminals in the recent months.

The data appeared to be a guideline for the authorities at the Central Police Office (CPO) to plan a comprehensive strategy to check the growing number of street crimes there.

It contained names and locations of the 60 areas — in all six Karachi districts — which have been declared ‘hot spots’ for mobile phone snatching and theft.

The officials said that although the number of streets crimes was less in the first nine months of 2016, it increased during the last quarter of the previous year to an extent that it sent ripples through the power corridors.

“There are different indicators which define street crimes,” said an official citing the recently compiled data. “It includes snatching of mobile phones and vehicles — both motorbikes and four-wheelers — and their theft. However, mobile phone snatching is believed to be the most significant indicator among others which affect almost every class of the society and every neighbourhood of the city.”

In 2015, he said 21,198 mobile phones were snatched while 20,442 stolen. In 2016, a total of 34,137 mobile phones were either snatched or stolen across the city.

The figures of street crime skyrocketed during the last quarter of 2016 despite staying low in the first nine months of the year, he said.

“For instance, in Karachi’s East district, 415 cases of mobile phone snatching were registered between September and December 2016,” said the official citing the CPLC data.

“In that particular district, the areas which have been identified as the hot spots include Disco Bakery [Gulshan-e-Iqbal], Aladin Park, Continental Bakery [Gulshan-e-Iqbal], Dolmen Mall, Millennium Mall, Baloch Colony Bridge, Iqra University, Noorani Kabab House intersection, NIPA and Ambala Bakery,” he added.

Similarly, in the Central district, 249 cases were registered between September and December 2016. Areas including Matric Board Office, Hyderi Market, Saima Pari Mall, Meena Bazaar, Sarena Mobile Market, Liaquatabad Super Market, Sindhi Hotel, Ziauddin Hospital, Imtiaz Super Market [Nazimabad], and area around Dhamthal Sweets [Federal B. Area] were identified as hot spots for mobile phone snatching.

After the mapping of the city’s neighbourhoods, the official said it was the prime responsibility of the area police to keep an eye on such spots. Otherwise, he said, it would not prove effective in eliminating the menace of street crimes.

“The vigilance and surveillance of the hot spots is the responsibility of local police, as they know their areas more than others do,” he added.

“You can plan things at the city or any other level, but policing on ground is the job of the area police. They know each and every corner and quite aware of vulnerable spots within the remits of their police stations. However, unfortunately, fighting street crime has never been their priority for one reason or the other.”

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2017