Lift-and-loot gangs have once again started resurfacing on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway despite the arrest of eight people in July. The police said, while earlier these gang members used to target office-goers after office hours but the new modus operandi is to offer lifts early morning when people are waiting for public transport.
The police said the gangs have been targeting commuters on a 14-kilometre stretch between Shankar Chowk and Hero Honda Chowk, from where 12 incidents have been reported this year.
Preet Pal Sangwan, assistant commissioner of police (crime), said that young men find it easy to dupe commuters as they know that the condition of public transport is poor across the city and working people are still opting for private or shared cabs. “We have already busted six gangs this year and arrested 16 people. However, cases are still on the rise and, every week, at least three such cases are reported from different areas. Young and unemployed men from Nuh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have been arrested for robbing people after offering them lift. During investigation, they have revealed that they formed gangs inside the jail,” he said.
The police said most of the cars used in crime are either stolen or robbed by them. They change the registration number plate to mislead police, and after committing crimes, change the car. The police said they have recovered CCTV footage from six spots and two of the suspects have been identified, who are history-sheeters.
KK Rao, commissioner of police said that the expressway is popular among the commuters, who flag down private cabs, which charge them less money as compared to cabs. The suspects adapt new modus operandi after every few months to mislead the police and try to use different stretches but easy targets are available on expressway. “In the recent cases, the modus operandi was to offer a shared ride to men waiting at Iffco Chowk, Shankar Chowk and Signature Tower on NH48, mostly on their way to office in Delhi. Instead of going to Delhi, the gang takes a U-turn after Shankar Chowk and starts threatening the victim to hand over their belongings . They hardly drive for a kilometre before attacking the victim and rob them of cash and valuables,” he said.
In five cases, the gangs members were cab drivers and were registered with cab aggregators. The police said with the amount they rob they invest in buying cars after making the down payment.
On Tuesday, a Rohtak resident boarded a cab from Iffco Chowk for Faridabad around 8.30am. He said he was carrying ₹2.95 lakh to purchase a new car from Faridabad. “When I boarded swift Dzire, four men were already seated. After going ahead for a few kilometres, they started assaulting me and snatched my wallet, mobile phone and money. Later they pushed me out of the car near Mahipalpur flyover in Delhi and told me not to report the incident to police, said Naresh Kumar, the victim.
A case under Section 392 (robbery) was registered at DLF Phase-2 polcie station on Tuesday, said the police.
In October, a 52-year-old Satish Kumar, sub-postmaster of Chanakyapuri was assaulted and robbed of ₹27,000 after he boarded a cab from Iffco Chwok. Kumar said that the suspects were in their early twenties.
The police have now deployed mufti-clad officers at different locations to nab the accused. “We have increased patrolling along the expressway. In the meantime, we urge people not to take shared rides,” said Rao.
The police are yet to make an arrest in all the eight cases between July and December 23.
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