Mumbai GRP forms Centralised Mobile Tracing Unit to avert Cell Phone thefts

Mumbai: The Government Railway Police (GRP), led by GRP commissioner Ravinder Singal, has this year formed a specialised unit called Centralised Mobile Tracing unit, which has managed to recover 655 missing cellphones in the first 90 days of the year. Interestingly, in 18 of these cases, the GRP converted missing complaints to thefts after finding out that the person from whom the phone was recovered had actually stolen it.

Commuters travelling on the Mumbai Suburban Railway line in 2014 lost over 27,000 cellphones. Another 9,463 cellphones went missing in the first three months of 2015. Assistant police inspector Dattatray Kindre, who is the unit head, said, “We also keep a tab on how many phones were returned. Out of the 655 cellphones recovered, about 584 have been returned to the commuters.”

As missing cases of cellphones are not criminal offences and occur due to the owner’s negligence, unlike phone thefts, the police treat it as a low priority. Furthermore, in many cases, it is not practical for the police to send its teams chasing people involved in cases of missing cellphones worth just a few thousand rupees.

However, looking at the sheer number of cellphones getting lost on the Railway premises and the miniscule detection rate, Mr Singal came up with the specialised unit where police personnel only do the job of collecting technical data on lost cellphones. The unit co-ordinates with all mobile-network service providers and goes through tons of e-mail analysis to trace a single phone.

In 18 cases, the missing phones were found with people having previous cases of phone thefts against them or it was ascertained that the phone was stolen and hence they were arrested for theft. Apart from missing cases, about 1,518 cellphone theft cases were registered last year, out of which 863 were detected. In 2015 till February, 378 phone thefts were registered and 147 detected.