Youth turning to robbery?

Chennai, July 01: Two young boys snatch a gold chain to take their girlfriends out for a new year’s party. It is not just the story of films anymore – young professionals and college students are resorting to this in alarming numbers in Chennai. Police say 72 cases of chain-snatching have been reported in the last month and a half and 49 people have been arrested.

Chennai Commissioner of Police JK Tripathy said, “It’s a disturbing trend that to my knowledge at least 15-20 per cent of the accused are not the types that are expected to commit such crimes. There are employees of different organizations, there are students, girl students studying in colleges.”

In 2009, 319 cases of chain snatching were reported from the city. The figure went up by 16 per cent in 2010 with 370 cases reported. And in the period between January and May this year, 177 such cases have already been reported.

But the big question is what drives youngsters to commit such crimes? Dr M Priyamvadha, Assistant Professor, Department of Criminology, University of Madras says, “Committing a robbery or burglary is a difficult task. Chain snatching is not a difficult task. Because of peer pressure they commit a lot of crimes. One things for fun they commit crimes, for thrill they commit crimes.”

Police say that youngsters often resort to such opportunistic crimes to fund their extravagant lifestyles. Psychologists suggest that mediation, counseling and awareness programmes might help instill values and ethics in youngsters and prevent such crimes.