LAHORE   -  The overall crime rate is on the rise in Punjab, the latest police data reveals.

The provincial police reported a record number of cases during the first five months of this year as compared to the previous, suggesting a considerable surge in criminal incidents across the province.

The surge in crime was attributed to the sharp increase in incidents of kidnapping for ransom, rape, dacoity, robbery, burglary, theft, vehicle theft, motor-vehicle snatching and cattle theft. The police data shows significant increase in incidents of “crime against property” during this year as compared to the last year.

The provincial police registered a total of 158,733 crime cases during the first five months of this year against 135,551 cases reported during the same period last year (from January to May). The official record reveals that the police investigators failed to trace at least 1,441 crime cases reported across the province during the first five months of this year. More than 38,735 cases are still under investigation.

According to the police statistics, at least 14, 342 cases were registered under the head of crime against person since January 2019 as compared to 15,689 such cases reported during the same period in 2018. Similarly, the police last year registered at least 34,079 cases in the category of crime against property as compared 25,928 such cases reported during the same period in 2018.

The murder rate almost remains the same in 2019 and 2018. This year, at least 1,208 murder cases were reported from January to May across the Punjab province. However, the police had reported at least 1,213 murder cases during the corresponding in 2018. The provincial police also declared at least 12 murder cases as untraceable.

The police also registered 1494 attempted murder cases against 1558 such incidents reported with the police in 2018. Police investigators were unable to solve many blind murder cases. In the category of blind murder, several victims were women and children who were found brutally murdered in different parts of the province.

During the first five months of this year, the police reported at least 4,406 kidnapping cases. However, the provincial police had reported 4,968 kidnapping cases during the same period in 2018. Most of the victims were said to be women and young girls who were abducted by gunmen. Also, the Punjab police registered at least 21 cases of kidnapping for ransom this year. Only eight cases were registered with the police under the head of kidnapping for ransom last year (from January to May).

At least 1,116 rape cases were registered with the provincial police from January to May this year while during the matching period in 2018 the police had reported 1011 rape cases.

Similarly, at least 53 cases of gang rape were reported by police in five months of this year against 65 such cases reported in 2018. The police also failed to trace criminals involved in at least four gang-rape cases and six cases of rape during the previous year.

This year the police reported at least 236 cases of dacoities (involving five or more than five gunmen) against 232 such cases registered with the provincial police in 2018. The police in 2018 failed to trace dozens cases of dacoities.

The new police data shows that at least 4,958 armed robberies were reported during the five months of this year against 3,699 such cases reported during the corresponding period in 2018. Also, the police failed to trace several hundred cases of armed robberies last year.

At least 4,138 cases of burglary were reported by the police in 5 months of this year against 3,653 such cases registered during the same period in 2018.

The provincial police registered 464 theft cases this year against 421 theft cases reported during the corresponding period in 2018. The police also reported a considerable increase in cattle theft cases this year as compared to the previous year. According to police, at least 2,314 cattle theft cases were registered in five months of this year in Punjab, while the police had reported 1,751 such cases during the same period in 2018.

The police this year reported at least 1,048 cases of motor vehicle snatching, while during the same period in 2018 the police had reported 918 such cases. As far as the motor-vehicle theft is concerned, the police reported 6,859 cases against 4,980 cases of motor vehicle theft reported during the same period in 2018. In Punjab, auto-lifting has become a booming business. More than 20,000 citizens are deprived of their vehicles every year. Less than 10 per cent of the total snatched or stolen vehicles are recovered by police annually, and thousands of auto-lifting cases are declared by police as “untraceable.”