Rise in crime during lockdown in Chennai, suburbs

Chennai: Journalist Pramod, who works for a Tamil Magazine was waiting near Saidapet to meet a source for the story he was working on.

He was sitting at the bus stop and checking WhatsApp on his phone when a bike-borne man snatched it and fled. It all happened so fast that Pramod did not have time to process what was happening.

This is a one-off case which denotes that crime is on the rise in the city due to the series of lockdowns impacting the day-to-day life of people.

In the past few weeks, the city has been witnessing an increase in phone snatching, vehicle theft and house break-ins.

In the beginning phase of the lockdown, the city police recorded zero cases of crime, however, things began panning out differently.

Sample this, after a series of robberies in houses in Tambaram, the police, with the help of CCTV visuals, they found it was ‘known offenders’ and arrested three men aged between 22-25 who allegedly said thst they were out of cash and took to robbery. Such cases are being reported once in two-three days at most police stations.

“Most of the men being arrested are all habitual offenders”, a police source said. He said that the city police were aware of the scenario, unlike the initial presumption that a lockdown meant there would not be any instances of crime.

Kumararaja, a resident and activist from Velacheri says, “In two weeks, two vehicles thefts took place in his neighbourhood. Other instances such as cycles being stolen, crates of milks lifted from shops in the early mornings and theft of iron and other things are also being reported.”

He says that many residents from neighbouring areas were calling him and asking to access CCTV visuals to find out about similar crimes.

Another trend, it is alleged that many anti-social elements were visiting houses and streets in the guise of vegetable vendors and salesmen to conduct a recce.

Many are of the opinion that the lockdown must be lifted so that, ‘residents will not have the fear of crime’.

Michael L Valan, Assistant Professor from Department of Criminology and Police Administration, D G Vaishnav College had conducted a study in April ‘Research on Fear of Crime during Covid-19 Lockdown period,’ says that the situation may get out of hand if it persists for another month.

“Around 13,000 cases domestic violence cases have been reported in the past few months in the State, imagine the number of unreported cases. The lockdown has a psychological impact on people.”

He says that in Parrys, five boys, aged below 18 were held for robbing Rs 2,500 from a vendor.

People are short of cash, they need to survive. We cannot survive on ration rice and pulses. Especially those living in the city are used to few luxuries. It is even more difficult for those who consume alcohol. With 100 days without a job, out of frustration and for survival people may commit crime.

An Inspector of Police, said that they have taken few suspicious people who are found roaming on the road on two-wheelers into custody. “We know it is a challenge, even after the lockdown is lifted and we are going to tackle this. We are expecting law and order issues and we will tackle it.”


Naomi N