• Organised gangs of repeat offenders are behind violent street crime, claims DIG Baloch
• Says ‘drug den operators’ purchase snatched cell phones from addicts
• List being prepared of junk dealers purchasing parts of stolen vehicles

KARACHI: Police on Saturday announced that they would launch a ‘massive’ action against illegal markets and those shops involved in sale and purchase of snatched cell phones and stolen parts of cars and motorcycles in the city.

Speaking at a press conference at his office, DIG-West Irfan Ali Baloch said police were ‘dismantling’ drug dens which were selling narcotics to ‘drug addict robbers’ in return of snatched cell phones.

He said citizens were being gunned down during snatching of mobile phones, and therefore, the police had decided to take action against the markets and shopkeepers who were selling the snatched cell phones after changing their International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers.

However, he admitted that certain robbers had also developed the capacity to change IMEI of snatched phones as such ‘software’ had been developed for this purpose.

He said over the past 11 days eight suspected robbers were shot dead while 42 others were arrested with bullet wounds.

Quoting CPLC data, the DIG said street crimes in West Zone had come down 50pc after these police actions.

Organised gangs of robbers

He said in 2023, around 100 people were shot dead by robbers in the city. He admitted that in the ongoing year, there was an upsurge particularly in violent street crimes.

“There may be many reasons behind it but in my opinion, the main reason is emergence/establishment of organised gangs,” said the DIG.

He said they were investigating every held suspect and it transpired that the robbers had established gangs and networks to commit street crimes.

Mostly, repeat offenders were involved in robbery-cum-murder and robbery-cum-injury incidents because they had been arrested and sent to prison several times and come out as ‘hardened criminals’ who did not hesitate to kill anyone over slightest of resistance.

Easy availability of arms was also a ‘dangerous’ thing and the police were ascertaining as to from where the robbers were getting small arms, he said.

The officer added that they were also preparing a list of junk dealers who purchased parts of stolen vehicles and the police would deal with them ‘harshly’.

The DIG said they had reports that drug den operators were involved in purchase of snatched cell phones, thus a ‘massive action’ would soon be launched to dismantle such narcotic dens.

15 citizens killed by mobile phone snatchers in West Zone

The DIG said that since Jan 1, a total of 15 citizens had been shot dead during snatching of cell phones by robbers in West Zone and 60 per cent of these cases had been ‘solved’.

He said since 23rd of March, five citizens were shot dead by robbers and all these cases had been ‘traced’.

The DIG said in an ‘encounter’ a suspect, Farhan Umerzada, was arrested with bullet wounds at the Irani Camp of Orangi Town.

During interrogation, he revealed that he was involved in crimes since 2022 and had committed around 200/250 robberies.

His accomplices Adnan and Farhan used to change IMEI of snatched cell phones and then sold them, the officer added.

On the second day of Eidul Fitr, the held suspect along with his accomplice had shot a woman for resisting a robbery bid in Mominabad.

“This gang is comprised of five members. The suspect Farhan is a habitual criminal who has been arrested and sent to prison.”

He said Samanabad police with the help of technology had arrested three members of ‘Tunda gang’ involved in robberies.

The held suspects told the police that they had developed friendship in jail and formed a gang.

One suspect Waqas was involved in eight robberies in different parts of the metropolis including Clifton, Boat Basin while another held suspect Khushal was also a habitual criminal.

He said that West police also arrested two members of ‘Raja gang’ in Surjani Town who had committed at least seven robberies in the area recently.

They were also habitual criminals who had been arrested before and sent to prison in five cases in recent past.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2024

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