The armed robbery at a jewellery shop in Dehradun on Thursday came as a double blow to the local police, as it happened at a time when President Murmu was in town. She will have taken back a bad impression of the city, which is otherwise believed to have law-abiding citizenry. To make matters worse, the Union Home Minister also arrived for the ITBP event! There was another incident of an attack by armed goons on a water sports site at the Nanaksagar Dam in Udham Singh Nagar on Wednesday night, leading to damage to boats and injuries to workers present. A public relations disaster, to say the least, for the state.
Was the jewellery shop heist carried out by professional gangsters, or by amateurs ‘inspired’ by the third-grade serials on TV and the social media environment? The initial estimates by the police indicate that the crime was committed by out-of-state crooks with some expertise in the game. They struck at a time when customers do not usually arrive, managed to ensure the staff could not summon help, and seemed to have inside information about the security shortcomings. As usual, some insider is believed to have been complicit in the act. There is also the question of disposing of the jewellery for which contacts are required with the shady lot that deal in such merchandise. Often, the police have informants that can throw light on unusual transactions.
The police have also developed some expertise in using various kinds of data obtained from CCTV cameras, IT and telecom domains. Already, by Friday, visuals of the perpetrators had become available, the motorcycles used in the crime had been found and other lines of investigation opened. Professional criminals, nowadays, have to develop methods to acquire ‘invisibility’ in such an environment and it remains to be seen how well this particular lot have done.
It must also be noted that the Doon Valley has limited exits and entrances. It is possible for the police to bring down the barriers on short notice so that the chances of escape are reduced. In earlier incidents, criminals have chosen to not try and leave and stayed in rented accommodation till matters cool down. In recent times, the success rate of such crimes has only dropped, so it is reasonable to believe that the culprits will be caught. Usually, there are interesting stories regarding the motivations of such gangs and the antecedents of the members. The smarter ones, it must be noted, have mostly migrated to cyber scams.