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Cover up October 31, 2006

Posted by R.S in Mobile Tech, Pakistan.
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Mobile phone snatching in Karachi is very common nowadays would be an understatement. Not a day goes by when the local newspapers does not carry a news item regarding mobile phone theft. Ofcourse the situation projects a bad image of the local administration and the police.

But according to a recent report publishe in DAWN, Karachi police has come with an interesting method to cover up their incompetence and in turn find a new use for old mobile phones.

Police buying cellphones to show as recovered

The old mobile phone sets which had lost their charm with the passage of time have disappeared from different markets across the city, market sources said. Question arises that who had bought these redundant sets at a time when with each passing day a new cellphone lands in the market. Cellphone traders in different mobile markets, which have mushroomed across the city, say that almost all old sets have been purchased by the policemen who had come in plain clothes. Investigations made by Dawn showed that a sizable number of the SHOs in the city have developed a sudden love for these old cellphone sets overnight following the recent visit by the prime minister to Karachi. On October 15, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had chaired a high-level meeting in Karachi and set October 31 as the deadline for the Karachi police to bring an end to the rampant street crime in the city. After the meeting, police hierarchy started holding meetings at different levels to chalk out strategies in this regard. Eventually, orders were issued to SHOs for an ever more efficient policing in their jurisdictions. However, the deadline set off a blind race of arrests coupled with recovery of stolen and snatched cellphones and illegal weapons from the detainees.
It is a common impression that a criminal having resorted to snatching a cellphone or robbing someone would have an illegal weapon. For police also, ‘recovering’ a TT pistol from a suspect has never been a problem.
However, police were confronted with the problem of having cellphones to show them as ‘recovered property’ in a number matching that of the arrests, a senior police officer divulged. The officer remarked that it was an undeniable fact that some genuine arrests of cellphone snatchers were being made, but their number was far less than what was being declared. Requesting anonymity, a town police officer remarked that street crime could not be controlled overnight or in a fortnight, as was being supposed. There are multiple dimensions to a crime; socioeconomic factor being the widely believed reason behind one’s resorting to such act. Until these inadequacies are addressed, the situation cannot show an improvement. At the moment, street crime is the top most priority of the police, according to him. The Crime Investigation Department, which is supposed to investigate cases of sectarian killings or terrorism, has also been assigned to pick up mobile phones snatchers and those dealing in stolen or snatched sets. ”

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