How kids in Mumbai are trained to steal mobile phones
When four minors, aged 13-17, were arrested last week in Mumbai for stealing mobile phones, their revelations were rather interesting. They told cops that they are part of a gang of kids who are trained to make the steal. Mid-Day reported how the gang of more than 30 children operates in a well-planned manner with calculated risks and strict instructions. Here's all about them.
The gang's mastermind deploys the minors in groups of four. One of them, posing as a beggar, approaches the target and then grabs their legs pretending to be begging in earnest. As the target tries to free their legs, a second child takes advantage of the diversion and grabs their phone. The third and fourth child keep looking out for the cops.
The children are also given instructions on which phone models to steal. Samsung models are most preferred, followed by OPPO, then Vivo, and finally Mi. They are given incentives depending on what phones they managed to grab. For instance, they earn Rs. 1,000-5,000 for Samsung phones worth Rs. 30,000-40,000, Rs. 1,000-3,000 for OPPO or Vivo phones and Rs. 1,000 for Mi.
Even though iPhones cost much more than Samsung or OPPO, the little thieves are given clear instructions to not touch one, because of iPhone's phone-tracking feature 'Find My iPhone'. However, if the children do end up stealing an iPhone, they are instructed to dump them before getting back to their homes or their gang's den.
In 2012, the 'Find My iPhone' feature helped in tracking down actor Dino Morea's iPhone. Through the app, the Bandra police were able to nab the culprit hours after he had burgled the actor's house and filched his phone.
The mastermind also maps out the children's daily schedules depending on where the crowds are expected to be the thickest in the city. The minors revealed that their bosses have divided their duties on the basis of days of the week, or particular festivals. "On Fridays, they are deployed at Haji Ali, and on Tuesdays, they go to Siddhivinayak Temple," a police officer said.
On regular days, the children are deployed at CSMT and Churchgate railway stations to target the peak hour commuters. The arrested minors told police that the gang operated in other states as well. During Ganapati festival, they maximize their profits by targeting Mumbai, Pune, and Nashik districts. During Navratri, they strike Gujarat and on Makar Sakranti, they hit Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
The stolen-phones are smuggled to Bangladesh via Jharkhand, and are sold in black markets there. Many children involved in this racket are recruited from Jharkhand, cops said. Meanwhile, the minors are lodged in Dongri children's home. Cops will verify their parents' identity and documents, if and when they arrive to pick them up, as the gang's masterminds might try to pose as their guardians.