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Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Train-Thief Operating Model

Hypothetically, if you are considering a career as a train-thief, what model would you use? 
- A simple case of pick-pocketing from the back?
- Use a weapon to scare and/or intimidate? 
- The whole run-and-smash-into-a-bystander-and-steal?

But (and what a huge But it is!) what if you are claustrophobic and can't stand the train crowd?
Well then, there is a new model of stealing, where you don't have to be technically in the train to do your job. 
Take this case for example.

A fishing rod may be a one-off case, but the concept itself is not. Let me elaborate.
A stretch of my train journey is well-known for such weird-thieving attacks. Since this stretch happens to be a few minutes before I have to get down, I inadvertently end up getting a prime viewing spot. So, in a span of around 4-5 months, I have been a bystander in two attacks: 

  1. Attack 1: Train starts decelerating with the oncoming of the next stop. Girl standing next to the door and playing a game on phone. One hitherto-unseen guy sitting quietly on top of the train throws a well-aimed rock at her hand. Phone is dropped in shock Guy jumps down, picks it up and runs.
  2. Attack 2: Speeding train. Girl standing next to the door listening to music on phone. She idly wonders why a man is standing on a lamp-post right next to the rails. As her bogie approaches the post, his hand shoots out. By the time she realises what has happened, the train has sped by, and she is left phone-less.

These incidents are very interesting, not just because of the method of stealing, but because of the reactions it generates in the train. There are, broadly, four categories:

  • Wise Ass: The middle-aged women who give advice on not using the phone while standing next to the train and not to hang at the train door. Some random ones rant on mobile phones being the bane of our existence.
  • Angry Ass: These hurl abuses at the thieves, which end up resonating inside the compartment, cracking a few ear-drums. ("M***ch*d!!", "Suar ki Dum", "S**le", "AAAAEEEE").
  • Curious Ass: Wondering at the reaction (or lack thereof) in the victim. Take this Overheard conversation between two ladies as an example:
"She was in shock, Bechari"."Yes, losing a phone like this"."What else could she do, cry in public?""She will go home and cry"."I am sure."
  • Amused Ass: I think that's just me.


Sachin Dongre said...

I had similar experience before 2 years. The incident happened between Mulund and Thane - after crossing Mulund Bridge. The train slowed down at the mentioned location. I was stading at the door with mobile in my hand. Two-three persons were sitting across the gutter line parallel to railway tracks. As soon as my coach passed near them, one person hit my hand with a long stick - I was shocked at such a perfect shot. My mobile fell down. I complained to the police at Thane railway station but in vain. The incharge asked me to be carefull as many such incidents took place at the same location.

Archana said...

Hey Sachin! I am talking about the same stretch too - there are always people waiting there! Police can increase their patroling - wondering why they don't.

Jai said...

Amusing Post :)