There are ‘schools’ in Rajmahal and Tinpahar towns of Jharkhand’s Sahibganj district that train children to steal mobile phones.
The children trained here are sent to big cities and metros. And then, gang leaders assign them areas and monitor their work.
Ranchi police recently apprehended four minor members of a gang of mobile phone thieves. The police also recovered 43 stolen mobile phones from their possession.
A 17-year-old member of the gang told the police that he was caught for stealing mobile in 2020 as well, and was then kept in a juvenile home in Bihar’s Buxar district for four months.
Another member of the gang, who was only 11 years old, revealed that he too was involved in a mobile theft case in the past and was kept in a juvenile home for 11 days in Bihar’s Bhagalpur.
For crimes such as theft, children are kept in juvenile homes for a short period. The police also do not inquire much about them. Even, minors are not tortured or harassed during their term.
The apprehended members of the gang told the police that they are given a target of stealing 8 to 10 mobiles every day. The remuneration they get for every mobile theft is fixed.
Depending on the brand and cost of the mobile phone, they get Rs 1000 to Rs 2000 per handset.
The older members in the gang stand around the children. Immediately after stealing mobile phones, these children hand it over to the older members. When a large number of stolen mobiles are collected, the gang leader takes them to Sahibganj.
The children involved in mobile thievery do the work with the consent of their parents. Most of the children come from families with poor financial condition. They are mostly from Tinpahar, Taljhari and Maharajpur of Sahibganj district (Jharkhand) and Baranpur, Hirapur, Asansol of West Bengal’s Bardhaman district.
The apprehended children told the police that they got training in stealing mobiles at Tinpahar and Rajmahal. Their boss Suraj, Chandan and others taught them the methods to steal mobile phones. After training, they were brought to Ranchi.
Vegetable and daily markets, according to them, are the best places to steal mobiles as it is easy for them to disappear from there after completing the task.
According to a senior police officer, stolen mobiles are transported to Bangladesh and Nepal. In one year, more than 30 minor members of such gangs were apprehended in Ranchi alone.