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Crime on the rise - Indiranagar & Bengaluru

What was otherwise a normal Tuesday morning, took a nasty turn about two months ago. I was awoken to the news that two cycles were stolen in the middle of the night from my house. Anyone who knows me well enough, knows how much I love cycling and love my cycle in particular. At first, the thought that someone could even have the guts to enter the compound of my house (by jumping over the locked gate) and steal two cycles that were locked was nerve wracking to be honest. After a lot of trouble and completely non-cooperating neighbours, we managed to secure CCTV footage from a neighbouring building and even called the police (who were actually pretty responsive and sent their personel within half an hour of calling). Two months on, although we have a pretty good idea about who did it, we are helpless and have received almost no redressal from the police other than them assuring us that if they found cycles that matched our description, they would whatsapp us the pictures. Two brand new cycles (one was about three months old and the other hardly two months) were gone. Over Twenty Thousand Rupees was down the drain.

While the occasional crime in a neighbourhood is not uncommon, what prompted me to write this blog is to highlight the increase in crime, especially against thefts of cycles. Hardly a week ago, on a cycling group on FaceBook, another individual had posted details of his cycles along with a CCTV footage of it been stolen by three men. This was also in Indiranagar. Although it is not clear from the video and I did not press for further details, it is pretty evident that the crime was premeditated just like in our case. Two men walked with clear intent to our house, without even peering into other houses, jumped over the gate, removed tools from their backpack, cut the lock (of the cycles), one jumped back out and the other facilitated the movement of the cycle over the gate and rode them away to never be seen again. It was perfectly orchestrated in about seven minutes.

When we spoke to our neighbours who have lived here for a longer time than us, they said that this was very common in all parts of Indiranagar. Their own scooter was stolen in the dead of the night!
What appauled me is that the police also knew that cycles were a common item to be stolen as it is easy to steal and resell to make quick money. However, they showed barely any interest to collect any evidence. We ourselves had to beg and plead neighbouring buildings to share their  CCTV footage and we spent countless number of hours examining it. All the police did was share our suspicion and take in a suspect for questioning after which he was released as he did not confess. No follow up work was done. However, they added that our case would be added a huge list of cycle theft cases and we would be surely intimated of any update.

Two and a half months later, I finally bought a new cycle. Once again, it was a Firefox and at checkout while talking to the Manager, he asked us why we were buying a new cycle again as he was aware that our previous ones were bought recently. Upon telling him that it had been stolen, he said that many customers of his were frequent repeats because of this very issue. Firefox cycles were stolen more commonly as it is an international brand that gets a higher resale value. Stealing cycles is rampant all across Bengaluru. One of his customers lost their cycle (a high-end one around 1 lakh rupees) when they were mugged while cycling. Students lost their cycles while leaving it outside tution centers that they went to.
The Manager offered to sell us insurance for our cycle, the premium of which is 9% of the value of the cycle and told us that we would receive 100% of the money back if our cycle was stolen within the first year. He said that all that had to be done is for a First Information Report to be filed and the money would be refunded. However, this insurance had to be bought within three days of purchase of the cycle.

This raises a few more concerns. 9% of the value as a premium is a lot of money. I can think about two probabale reasons for this premium. Firstly, it is easier for people to committ insurance fraud as it is easy to claim that a cycle was stolen rather than a car being stolen. Secondly, the common occurence of cycle thefts will obviosuly drive up the premium paid.
To put this into persepctive, we own a Toyota Innova that was bought in 2009. The value of the car today is probably around INR 8 lakhs (if not less). The insurance premium paid for it just INR 11,000 which is about 1.375% of the value of the car.

Apart from the insurance related concern, the theft has proven to me that even locking your cycles with branded, 'good quality' locks (I owned a BTWIN lock that was extremely thick and sturdy) will not protect it against being cut and stolen. Prior to the incident, I used to lock my cycle around a pole near the Indiranagar Metro Station (as there is no parking facility available) and leave it there confidently for a couple of hours while I used the metro to get to a place and come back. I incorporated all the tips and tricks that you may read online such as lock both the frame as well as the wheel to the pole (there have been cases were the wheel was removed and the rest of the cycle was taken away when only the wheel was locked to the pole) and lock it in a secluded but not too secluded area, away from traffic and such. However, all this will prove futile when in a couple of minutes, if not seconds, it can be easily broken and stolen.
Although I finally own a new cycle now, extra precautions have to be taken while parking it both at home and outside. We have now installed CCTV cameras at key points around the house and the cycle is parked in much more secure area. Outside, the cycle will be parked for the least possible duration and the best that I can do is hope that it is not stolen.
The police have to take some sort of action to crack down on these robbers for both cyclists and insurance companies may go bankrupt if they do not ;)

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