Monday March 20, 2023

More than 1,000 mobile phones are snatched from twin cities every day

March 05, 2023

Islamabad : The people of twin cities Rawalpindi and Islamabad are scared of the mobile phone snatching gangs roaming around the commercial and residential localities for hunting down any pedestrian or rider for robbing mobile phones fearlessly.

The pillion-riding snatchers swoop down at their target, snatch the mobile phone in a blink and disappear from the scene.

“The whole exercise takes them hardly a few seconds in accomplishing their mission,” a target who was deprived of his mobile phone for the second time in a month, told this correspondent in a police station. However, in order to get f first information report (FIR) registered, the Moharrar of the police station directed him to go to the other police station as his mobile phone was not snatched in the jurisdiction of this police station.

Unfortunately, the offence of mobile phone snatching has turned from a minor street crime to organised felony being controlled and run by mafias, not individuals. The barons running gangs of mobile snatchers comprise thousands of professional phone snatchers who are now allegedly working under the supervision of police and social personalities, political stouts and IT experts to clear IMEI identity numbers before smuggling out to Afghanistan and other crime-generating countries, a police officer engaged in the investigation of such cases, told this correspondent when contacted.

Astonishingly, the mafia chiefs have segregated the major and minor cities according to their significance, a source linked with the mobile snatching mafia, told ‘The News’ casually on the condition of anonymity.

“Rawalpindi, followed by the federal capital Islamabad, have become one of the biggest markets of dealing with snatched mobile phones,” he disclosed and added the mafias, previously involved in carjacking and drug business, have now shifted to mobile snatching trade.

The police wrongly claim that the police have overpowered the rising trend of mobile snatching but actually they are least interested to take mobile snatching as a serious crime and deny registration of first information reports (FIR) on the offence, however, brush off the case by issuing e-receipt as FIR, which precisely indicates involvement of the area police in mobile snatching offences, he maintained.

“Drug smuggling and dealing, vehicle lifting, extorting ransom were most lucrative crimes for the criminal mafias in the previous days but it was hard and much tricky task for the inexperienced workforce of the mafias,” a police officer engaged in the investigation of such cases, averred when contacted by this scribe.

“The police and other law enforcement agencies have literally failed in foiling bids to smuggle snatched and stolen mobile phones to Afghanistan,” the officer added.

The criminal magnates, taking advantage of the neglected attitude and lack of interest towards the heightening trend of mobile phone snatching offences, took control of the situation and establish organised crime in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, he spoke out, adding, “The police receive a complaint of phone, sometimes after every three minutes in a day.” Not less than 1,000 mobile phones are snatched from different areas of Rawalpindi and Islamabad every day, the officer claimed. The mobile phones blocked by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) either on complaints of victims whose cell phones have been snatched by armed muggers at gunpoint in twin cities or on request of police investigators are being smuggled to Afghanistan where the IMEI is changed by the IT experts to unlock the phones, the sources maintained.

The gangs got proper training in snatching valuable phone sets with or without arms, targeting the affluent people to snatch iPhones, operating in posh localities Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the sources maintained adding that the gangsters have direct links with Afghan smugglers to easily transport their consignment to Afghanistan. The sources disclosed that the snatched mobile phones are smuggled to Afghanistan through the Torkham border where there is no proper checking of people crossing the border by the border security forces.

There is no close coordination or liaison between Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police to bust the gangs involved in the smuggling of stolen mobiles to Afghanistan, sources claimed. Consequently, citizens of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, whose precious cell phones were snatched by dacoits at gunpoint, are running from pillar to post to get their iPhones recovered by the police despite the registration of FIRs with concerned police stations.