Amidst a teeming presence of social vigilantes and self-proclaimed protectors of the people of the state, incidences of vehicle thefts and snatching has been on the increase at an alarming rate. If the statistics mentioned in few reports proved true, then the problem has already become acute which calls for extraordinary measures. In 2014, there were reports of more than 750 vehicle thefts- more than two vehicles stolen daily on an average, the tiny city of Imphal being the main hunting ground. The continuing menace indicates a well-orchestrated machinery at work with a vast network and great reach and influence. While the state security forces have started acknowledging the situation and have evidently taken up steps to curb the crime, there is still a lot of work to be done to bring it under control and deter the auto-thieves. The present infrastructure and facilities being provided by the state government is not helping things much either, with its every initiative turning out to be an exercise in uncoordinated half-hearted measures. It is perplexing for anyone to try and fathom the reason as to the reluctance of state government to deploy force-multiplying measures such as closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs) in public places, the very sight of which will act as a major deterrent for the thieves, miscreants, vandals and every other enemies of the public. Safe and proper parking spaces are still a nascent concept that needs to be developed in the state.
Haphazard and makeshift arrangements along the sides of the road have been troubling the public no end, with no positive change to the present situation in sight. Such confusions and disorganized public parking system provides opportunities for the thieves. There also remains the very controversial and much criticized High Security Registration Plate (HSRP) which the state government has announced mandatory in the state, but is in reality, a farce designed to make the public pay through their nose for a non-existent service with none of the security for the vehicles. The most dismal aspect of it all is the woeful track record of arrests and even lower rate of convictions. The most hi-tech gizmos or the most efficient system will count for nothing much unless the culprits are hunted down and are brought to book. They must be made to realize that it does not pay to steal or look for an easy way out in life. Exemplary penalties and punishments need to be meted out to these culprits without exceptions if there is to be any hope of curbing the menace. The Catch Them Campaign, an initiative taken up jointly by the Poknapham, People’s Chronicle and Impact TV to raise awareness and force those entrusted with the resources and authority to address the worsening problem to shake off the lethargy and take proactive measures to curb it is a timely and much needed step in the right direction. Together, we can make a difference.