For a fortnight now, residents of Anna Nagar and those of its neighbouring areas have been stopped at numerous check points. The spurt in chain snatching incidents in the area has led to such vigil.
The police have turned areas such as J.J. Nagar, Nolambur and Thirumangalam into a fortified zone with check points at almost every street and main road. Apart from examination of the motorists’ documents, the police are also checking for drunken driving.
“Earlier, checks in Anna Nagar were done mainly for drunken driving cases. Now they include verification of vehicle documents. We also keep an eye on the movements of residents and outsiders,” said a police officer.
Last week, more than eight chain snatching incidents occurred in a span of two days in the city, of which three took place in JJ Nagar, Nolambur and Thirumangalam. In fact, in December last year alone, of the 83 chain snatching complaints registered with the city police, Anna Nagar accounted for 19.
Interestingly, the city police commissioner S. George, resides in Nolambur. There is round-the-clock surveillance by beat policemen around his house with nearly a half-a-dozen CCTV cameras installed there.
Anna Nagar police district consists of Villivakkam, Aminjikarai, Maduravoyal, Rajamangalam, Kolathur, JJ Nagar, Nolambur and Thirumangalam. Unlike other areas within the Anna Nagar police district limits, Nolambur, Thirumangalam and J.J. Nagar have a high percentage of residents who fall within the high-income bracket. Further, these areas are thinly populated and less congested. This works in favour of criminals as they can make their getaway without fear of being noticed.
More importantly, most of the chain snatching incidents that happened in the past two months were between 5. 30 a.m. and 6 a.m., when police surveillance was low. The victims were women who were out in the morning drawing kolams in front of their houses.
“When we are busy with our kolams, we expect people, who are on the road this early, to be either a newspaper vendor or the milk man and are not alarmed by them. They take advantage of this and attack us. Also, they disappear in a matter of seconds,” said S. Devikala, a resident of Anna Nagar.
The beat police teams have now been increased with three policemen in each team, headed by a sub-inspector. Each team will always be on the move within their specified area. Besides this, special police teams in plainclothes are deployed on robbery-prone spots in the neighbourhood.
All entry and exit points have been sealed with an increased number of policemen at the check points there.
Residents have welcomed this initiative. They believe the increased surveillance should not be at the cost of personal liberty of the residents, who are mostly elders and pensioners. Further, residents also pointed that in the name of law and order, such steps should not be used to harass innocent residents. “We have noticed an increased presence of policemen in our neighbourhood recently. A sense of security is being felt,” said S.N. Balasubramanian, president, Exnora Club of Anna Nagar.