Armed robberies rising in Valley, say cops

Hem Dulal

Kathmandu, February 26:

Though incidents of theft have decreased in the Valley, the cases of armed robbery have risen in the recent months, according to Valley police. Ganesh KC, DSP at the Kathmandu District Police Office (KDPO), said that the use of weapons by petty offenders has increased in recent days, thereby making ‘theft’ by definition a ‘looting’.

In the last three months, 74 cases of looting and 102 thefts were recorded. Only 20 cases of looting were recorded in the previous fiscal year, while the reported number of thefts was 430, according to the Valley Crime Investigation Branch (VCIB). The VDCIB further stated that 30 per cent of the thefts going unreported.

The reason behind the rise in armed robbery? “The shift in business activities to the Valley and its centralisation in Kathmandu. This not only made the thieves move house too, but the capital’s huge economic transactions attracted them to make more money,” he said. He quoted the very backdrop as being an one of the many important reasons for the tougher crime investigation scene in the Kathmandu Valley.

A report prepared by the theft section of VCIB two years ago states that three cases of theft were taking place every day on average then. “The number has gone down to one in the last six months,” DSP Madhav Joshi at the theft section said. Armed robbery was a weekly phenomenon two years ago. “Now one case of looting is reported every day on an average,” he said.

The VCIB has identified the thieves/looters (around 1,000 in number) of the Valley into three categories: learners, semi-professionals and professionals. Police estimate there could be around 300 professionals, while other two kinds make up the remaining 700.

Though, “the number definitely has gone up in recent months, we can’t exactly figure it out,” he said. “It was the jobseekers that were found to have been engaged in petty theft, and now they have shifted to ‘big time robbery’,” states VCIB’s comprehensive report. “Robbers are found to have been going about their business pretending to be either police or Maoists or army personnel, especially during the night, usually from 11p.m. to 1a.m.,” Joshi said. Most of the offenders are said to be between the ages 18-26 years and they are usually of Mongolian origin. Most culprits are found to hail from Dhading, Nuwakot, Sindhuli, Kavre, Sindhupalchowk, Ramechhap, Makawanpur, Dolakha, Sarlahi and Bara. The theft cases are high in Maharajgunj, Chundevi, Baluwatar, Kalimati, Kuleshwor, Kalanki, Naikap, Gaushala, Maijubahal, Baneshwor and Shankhamul in Kathmandu and Sunakoti and Bagdole in Lalitpur.

Criminologist Dr Rajitbhakta Pradhananga opined that the intensifying of the armed conflict displaced the rural youngsters, who had but make their way to the city, which resulted in a rise in the city’s population and the umemployment rate, which led these youngsters to resort to stealing and looting to earn a living.

The other reason cited for the rise in such crimes is said to be the increasing number of drug abusers in the Valley. “Also youths, who have made a habit of visiting call girls, are found to be involved in such crimes,” Joshi said adding the desire for an easy life is another reason.