LAHORE - More than 12,500 people were deprived of their cars and motorcycles in the first eight months of this year, as Punjab Police failed to check vehicle lifting and snatching.

The latest police data shows at least 2,312 vehicles were snatched at gunpoint in parts of the province and 10,199 vehicles were stolen from January to August. Last year, police had reported at least 10,806 cases of vehicle theft and 2,573 cases of vehicle snatching.

Sources in the investigation police say many organised gangs are active in the booming business of auto lifting in Punjab where police report no less than 20,000 such cases every year. Less than 10 per cent of the total snatched or stolen vehicles are recovered, while thousands of cases are declared by police as “untraceable”.

Punjab’s big cities, including Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Rawalpindi have virtually become safe havens for gangsters and incidents of killings, kidnappings, robberies and auto lifting are on the rise.  The overall crime rate registered an upward trend in the first eight months of this year as compared to the same period last year. The surge in violence was attributed to rising incidents of crime against person, including abductions, rape and kidnapping for ransom in addition to robberies and motor-vehicle lifting.  The provincial police also reported a record number of cases of murder, rape and abduction in the first eight months of 2017.

All reported crimes are divided into two main categories   crime against person and crime against property. The part-I (crime against person) has eight categories   murder, attempted murder, injury, kidnapping, kidnapping for ransom, rape and gang rape. The part-II (crime against property) consists of dacoity, robbery, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, motor vehicle snatching and cattle theft.

This year, the provincial police registered at least 276,113 crime cases from January to August and last year the police had reported 278,659 cases of crime during the corresponding period. More than 39,120 cases are still under investigation and the police failed to trace criminals behind 9,026 cases.

The cases reported by police under the head of “local and special laws violations” also registered a considerable increase in the first eight months of 2017 as compared to the same time period last year. The Punjab Police reported 102,614 cases in the category of local and special law violations. In 2016, at least 102,471 cases were registered under this head.

The police also reported at least 86,664 cases of crime under the head of Miscellaneous Laws against the last year’s 86,722 cases reported in the same category. At least 54,710 persons were convicted during the first eight months of this year while at least 41,868 persons had been convicted in various cases during the same period in 2016. Also, at least 50,044 persons were acquitted this year while last year at least 44,558 persons were acquitted in different cases.

According to the police data, at least 53,142 cases were registered in the category of crime against property during the first eight months of 2017 as compared to 54,383 such cases reported during the same period in 2016. Similarly, the police registered at least 33,693 cases in the category of crime against person as compared to 35,083 such cases reported during the same period in 2016.

DACOITIES

The police reported at least 445 cases of dacoities (involving five or more than five gunmen) in the first 8 months of the current year against the last year’s 672 cases.

ROBBERIES

The Punjab police data shows that at least 8,212 armed robberies were reported during the first 8 months of this year against 9,170 cases reported during the corresponding period in 2016.

BURGLARY

At least 7,307 cases of burglary were reported by the police this year against 7,937 cases registered during the same period last year.

THEFT

The provincial police registered 1,061 theft cases from January to August this year against 962 cases reported during the corresponding period in 2016.

According to police, as at least 3,489 cattle theft cases were registered during the first 8 months of this year while last year the police had reported 3,792 cases during the same period.

MURDER

The incidents of murder decreased slightly during the first eight months of 2017 as compared to the previous year. At least 2,707 murder cases were reported from January to August this year in Punjab. Last year, during the same period, at least 2,862 murder cases were reported with the provincial police. This year, the police also registered 2,959 attempted murder cases against the previous year’s 3,120 incidents.

KIDNAPPINGS

During the first eight months of this year, the police reported at least 9,499 abduction cases while last year at least 9,410 cases had been reported by the police. Most of the victims were said to be women and young girls who were abducted by gunmen.

Also, the Punjab police filed at least 27 cases of kidnapping for ransom in the first eight months of the year. Last year, only 24 cases had been registered with the police under the head of kidnapping for ransom.

RAPE/GANG RAPE

At least 2,052 rape cases were registered with the provincial police from January to August this year while during the matching period in 2016 the police had reported 2,104 rape cases. Similarly, some 129 cases of gang rape were registered by police this year against 156 such cases reported during the first 8 months of 2016. At least, 25 gang rape cases are still under investigations.

SHOOTOUTS

At least 15 policemen lost their lives and 38 others wounded while fighting criminals from January to August this year. Last year, at least 20 police had died and 36 others were wounded while fighting back criminals. On the other hand, the Punjab police killed more than 180 criminals during the first 8 months of this year as compared to 236 criminals killed in shootouts with police during the corresponding period last year.