Police have rounded up as many as 77 persons for their alleged involvement in pick-pocketing during a two-week long operation conducted in Kathmandu.
The alleged pickpockets, including four women, used to steal cash, mobile phones and wallets from passengers aboard city buses. Of the four females, one is a lactating mother. SSP Basant Lama, in-charge at Teku-based Metropolitan Police Range, said the special operation was launched on December 1 based on complaints that pickpockets had been targeting commuters, mainly those from outside Kathmandu.
Transport entrepreneurs also cooperated with police to as pickpocket victims first complain to the concerned vehicle driver and helper about the incident.
The suspects arrested by police are between the ages of 16 and 30 years. SSP Lama said they dressed well, carried backpacks and looked like any other commuter. One of four women even carried a baby so as not to arouse suspicion.
In most cases, they operated in gangs with two persons each during rush hours take advantage of crowded vehicles. Many of them know each other. SSP Lama said the alleged pickpockets used code language to say various terms like police, target persons, money, wallet, mobile phone, driver, helper etc.
Their modus operandi was to identify persons with money and expensive smart phones in a bus before boarding the public vehicles. “They surrounded the target in a crowded bus to create a situation of jostling to steal cash, wallet and mobile phone. Once the wallets and valuables were stolen, they assembled at a spot and shared the cash and valuables.
SSP Lama said 55 cops in civvies were deployed for the operation. Police have recovered Rs 596,000, 39 mobile phone sets, four iPads, five laptops, gold and silver ornaments and a fake pistol from the suspects.