LAHORE - City police yesterday claimed to have smashed a gang of female thieves by arresting their three members involved in several cases of burglaries. The police also seized a car, motorcycle, and four mobile phones from their possession.

Police officer Ebadat Nisar told reporters that the arrests were made during a raid at a house located near Butt Chowk on the Taajpura Road. The suspects were identified by police as Rubina, Shabnam alias Rabia, and Kaneez Fatima. They are said to be relatives.

“This gang of female bandits had been active in the Ghaziabad police area. They had committed several burglaries in shops and houses. They had a crime history and they were wanted to police in several cases,” Cantonment division SP Nisar said.

A team of Ghaziabad police headed by SHO Ateeq Ahmed conducted the raid at a rented house and arrested the suspects. According to a police spokesman, the women confessed to police their involvement in more than 55 cases of house theft, burglaries and shop robberies during preliminary investigations.

All the three members of this gang were handed over to the investigation wing of the city police for further interrogation. The city police department yesterday released the photos of the female thieves to the local media as part of its “information sharing with public” policy.

The provincial police, early this year, had put online an album of 204 female thieves with their pictures and particulars to sensitise citizens about the domestic workers having criminal history. The photos of at least 204 women from all over the province were uploaded on the website of the Punjab police on the “public services” page. The addresses of these housemaids and the cases reported against them are also mentioned on the online page.

The initiative was part of the police plans to maintain and update the data of criminals online. Police sources say they believe this practice of “information sharing” with public will help build police image and bridge the communication gap as well.

The police department had printed the data regarding domestic servants who are involved in crimes in order to create awareness among the people. Sources in the central police office said that the decision to upload the photos of such domestic servants was taken amid sizeable surge in the incidents of theft and house robberies in the big cities of the province.

Since these domestic workers rob rich and influential families, therefore they are frequently subjected to police torture during interrogation. The policemen badly torture these women to recover looted valuables from their possession.

There are a few hundred women who are serving in the 180,000 strong Punjab police. Only 127 police officers had been recruited as sub inspectors in the police department a couple of year ago. They are deployed in different police stations of Lahore but the female crime suspects are mainly interrogated by male officers in the police stations. Most of the female crime suspects are kept in male police stations as there are only two women police stations in the Punjab province.

Some experts raised questions over this police initiative saying that the law enforcing agency registers a large number of fake crime cases every year. Therefore, the database could be exploited or misused.

In America and the West, this type of data mainly includes crimes such as felonies (murder and rape) as well as serious misdemeanors (robbery, assault, etc). Use of this database is not permitted for employment checks by private citizens and is strictly for the use of justice agencies throughout the United Sates.