LAHORE - More than 3,000 vehicles were either snatched at gunpoint or stolen away from different parts of Punjab during the first two months of this year.

In 2015, some 3,500 people were deprived of their vehicles either by robbers or thieves during the corresponding period.

Latest police data reveals that at least 2,014 armed robberies were reported during the first two month of this year against 2,352 such cases reported in 2015. Similarly, at least 1949 of burglaries were reported in Punjab in the first two months and last year, the police had registered some 2,252 cases.

More than five gunmen were involved in at least 130 armed robberies reported with the provincial police in January and February. Last year, the police had reported more than 200 cases of crime against property.

This improvement is not being accepted by citizens who say police don’t report all theft or robbery cases.

Interestingly, house robberies are not specifically mentioned in the police data. New statistics show during the first two months of this year, at least 2,464 motor vehicles were stolen and some 548 vehicles were snatched away at gunpoint from across the province.

More than 20,000 citizens are deprived of their vehicles every year in Punjab. Less than 10 per cent of the total snatched or stolen vehicles are recovered by police annually, and thousands of auto-lifting cases are declared by police as “untraceable”.

A good number of gangs are active in the booming business of auto-lifting that involves slight risk but high profits. Also, the stolen vehicles are bought by the so-called scrap-dealers who run clandestine workshops at Lahore’s Bilal Gunj market.

Auto-theft gangs employ a range of modus operandi to maximise their profits. Some steal vehicles as per the specific demand of their clients while others steal a particular make that is popular in areas where they have good links with the receivers.

As victims complain the police do not take auto-lifting cases more seriously, cops say the owners must adopt preemptive safety measures to protect their properties.

Auto-lifters are stealing cars with impunity from across the proving as police have witnessed a steep surge in the incidents of car-theft in recent years. Frequently, vehicles are being stolen from outside wedding halls, restaurants, shopping malls, and even on the hospital premises in the big cities.

More than 44,000 vehicles were either stolen or snatched away at gunpoint from different districts of the province during the last two years. Also, the provincial police had decaled at least 18,000 cases of auto-lifting as untraceable in 2014, and 2015.

On the other hand, Punjab witnessed a sizeable surge in the overall crime cases reported with the provincial police. During this first two months of 2017, a total of 65,549 crime cases were reported with the police against the last year’s 61,118 cases.

Murder: The incidents of murder decreased slightly during the first two months of 2017 as compared to the previous year. At least 540 murder cases were reported during the first two months of this year in Punjab. Last year, at least 625 murder cases were reported with the provincial police during the same period. The police are struggling to solve several blind murder cases and to arrest most of the alleged killers. In the category of blind murders, most of the victims were women who were found brutally murdered in different parts of the province.

Kidnapping: The police, during the first two months of this year, reported at least 1,986 cases of kidnapping while last year at 2018 such cases were reported with the police. Most of the victims are said to be women and young girls who were abducted by gunmen.

Rape/Gang rape: The province has also witnessed a steep rise in rape cases during the first two months of this year as compared to the matching period of 2016. The surge in violence against women is quite common in this province where most of the female victims don’t report the crime to the police either because of their family background or due to influential perpetrators.

At least 402 rape cases were registered with the provincial police in January and February this year while in 2016 the police had reported 396 such cases during the same period. Similarly, some 23 cases of gang rape were registered by police this year against 39 such cases reported during the first two months of 2016.

Cattle Theft: The police also claimed a reasonable decrease in cattle theft cases this year as compared to the previous. According to police, as at least 871 cattle theft cases were registered during the first two months of this year in Punjab while last year the police had reported 1,057 case during the same period.

Special & miscellaneous violations: Also, the provincial police reported at least 26,712 cases under the head of “local and special laws violations” during the first two months of the current year. Last year, the police had reported 23,443 such cases in January and February.

In the category of miscellaneous, police registered at least 19,477 cases in January and February while last year during the same period at least 16, 923 cases were registered with the Punjab police.

Police encounters: Police encounters also registered a slight decrease this year as compared to 2016. During the first two months of this year, at least 57 criminals were killed in no less than 44 armed encounters. Similarly, the police had killed at least 69 alleged criminals in 57 shootouts which took place in different parts of the province during January and February 2016. Police sources say that many of the most-wanted-criminals were killed in staged shootouts after they were arrested by police and interrogated in connection with cases of heinous crime.