LAHORE: Stealing side-view mirrors, batteries, tyres and other accessories of vehicles, particularly of the luxury cars, seems to be a ‘petty crime’ for police but the citizens are paying a heavy price for it as such incidents have increased manifold in recent times after several new groups of the criminals sprung up in the provincial capital.

The criminals target the cars and other vehicles parked in the streets and by the roadsides in the commercial markets and even in the parking lots of the residential areas. Since the majority of the crime incidents go unreported, hence the crime remains unchecked in Lahore, luring more criminals to get involved in such crime and sell the stolen parts of the cars in the black market.

An interesting aspect of this crime is that the Lahore police have no reliable data of the stolen side-view mirrors, batteries and other such accessories as most of the car owners don’t report the crime due to multiple reasons, prime of them being the attitude of police. This category of crime is increasing with every passing day in every hook and corner of the city.

Dawn contacted many station house officers (SHOs) and the officials of the investigation wing police who, requesting anonymity, say that the crime mentioned above increased in the city after the car owners stopped reporting it due to various reasons. They claim that the majority of the criminals committing crime have escaped punishment due to the non-registration of the cases.

Thieves target side-view mirrors, tyres and batteries; no reliable data of crime available with police

On the other hand, the sources say that one of the major reasons is that the victims/car owners avoid calling 15 or visiting police stations to report the crime due to the ‘traditional behaviour’ of police towards the citizens. Many others don’t bother to report these robberies as they consider them ‘less damage to their vehicles’ while police have declared it a petty crime.

Recently, the prices of the vehicles, particularly of the cars, increased manifold, hence the ‘petty crime’ related to cars also increased when the prices of the accessories too witnessed a spike.

A source says that the majority of the incidents have gone unreported and the situation has become so precarious that this ‘petty crime’ has spread from streets and markets to the much-protected private housing schemes. Some days back, thieves stole all the four tyres of the car of the PTI’s former MNA Shunila Ruth. She had parked her car outside her residence in the Pak Arab Housing Society in the jurisdictions of the Kot Lakhpat police. She called the police, lodged a complaint but the investigation police neither contacted her nor bothered to visit the crime scene. Finally, the source says, Ms Ruth had to purchase new tyres for her car. However, the PTI leader released a video clip, exposing the police negligence regarding her case.

According to some reports, many other such incidents have occurred in the same society in which thieves stole side-view mirrors, batteries and tyres of 17 cars of the residents during the last one month.

Similarly, the criminals removed side-view mirrors of 12 cars and batteries of 34 other vehicles parked alongside a patch of Ferozepur Road from Qainchi to Chungi Amar Sidhu during the last one month or so. As the majority of the incidents have gone unreported, the criminals are having field day in the area.

This crime is also flourishing in the posh areas of Johar Town, Model Town, Defence Housing Authority, Gulberg, Iqbal Town, Nawab Town, Kahna and Shahdara.

According to the unofficial figures, thieves targeted at least 70 cars in the areas mentioned above during the last two months or so, though the sources say the number of the cars targeted in these areas maybe more than 150. The citizens are very upset at the crime increasing every day.

A few days back, thieves stole two back tyres of a new luxury sedan car parked outside the house of a citizen in the OPF Society. A camera detected the crime and the footage and the photos later went viral on social media, triggering strong criticism against the police for their failure to control the criminals.

Another incident took place in the same (OPF) housing scheme two days back when thieves removed all four tyres of a hatchback when the owner parked it near a greenbelt and went to a shop. The video clip of the incident also went viral on social media when the police didn’t respond to the 15 calls.

Similarly, the source says, unidentified thieves stole side mirrors of a luxury SUV parked near the Liberty Roundabout. The owner had arrived from Islamabad to meet his relatives.

According to the reports, the thieves/criminals use screwdrivers to remove the side-view mirrors of vehicles. Some others unplug the side mirrors with a forceful jerk, causing other damages to the cars.

Requesting anonymity, a spare parts dealer running a business near the Ali Hajveri Shrine, tells this reporter that the many suspects would visit the market to sell dozens of side-view mirrors and other stolen accessories of the cars. For the criminals, he says, it’s easy to remove or steal side-view mirrors and sell them in the market at throwaway prices, adding that the Japanese or other imported cars are the prime target of the thieves as their parts are costly.

“One can get multiple locks from the markets to protect one’s car but there is no such remedy available to secure the side-view mirrors.”

The dealer says a group of thieves is specialised in stealing the batteries and they are so adept at it that they remove the batteries within a few minutes.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2023

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