LAHORE - The most populated Punjab province has become a safe haven for dacoits and thieves, as armed robberies reported by police have increase manifold.

The new police data shows incidents of dacoities, robberies, burglary, auto-lifting, and cattle-theft have increased to an alarming extent during the first eight months of 2019 as compared to the corresponding period of 2018.

Apart from big cities, people in small towns and villages are routinely robbed at gunpoint. The crime data depicts a gloomy picture of the worsening law and order situation throughout the province.

According to official statistics, at least 538 incidents of dacoities (involving five or more than five gunmen) were reported by police during the first eight months of this year, as compared to 479 such cases registered during the same period last year. The police submitted challans of 325 cases in courts while 161 cases are still under investigation. Police investigators have declared 32 dacoity cases as untraceable.

Similarly, the province witnessed at least 10,761 incidents of armed robberies during the first 8 months of the current year while the police had reported 8,561 armed robberies in 2018. The investigators challaned 5831 cases and 3,678 cases are under investigation. Police also failed to trace 958 cases of armed robberies while 294 cases were cancelled.

17,500 vehicles lifted in eight months

The police, during the first eight months of this year, registered 8,068 cases of burglary as compared to 7,476 such cases reported by police during the same period in last year. Police data shows that the police failed to trace as many as 1,175 cases of burglary. Out of total 8,068 burglary cases, the police challaned 3178 cases while no less than 3404 cases are still under investigation.

The provincial police registered 938 theft cases this year against 901 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 4,666 cattle theft cases were reported by police during the first eight months of this year while the police had registered 3,550 such cases during the same period in 2018.

Also, police reported at least 14,966 cases of motor vehicle theft from January to August this year as compared to 11,638 such incidents registered with police during the same period in 2018. As far as the incidents of motor-vehicle snatching are concerned, the police reported 2,524 cases during the first eight months of 2019 against last year’s 2297 incidents.

Unfortunately, auto-lifting has become a booming business in the Punjab province where 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.

The latest data reveals that the police failed to trace at least 2,683 cases of motor vehicle theft while at least 157 incidents of motor vehicle snatching have been declared by police as untraceable.

The Punjab police reported a record number of cases during the first eight months of this year as compared to the previous. The recent surge in crime is being attributed to the sharp increase in incidents of crime against property.

On the other hand, the provincial police registered a total of 323,067 crime incidents during the first eight months of this year against 258,145 cases reported during the same period last year (from January to August). The official record reveals police investigators failed to trace at least 10,846 crime cases reported by police during the first eight months of this year. More than 60,000 cases are still under investigation.

The murder rate almost remains the same during the first eight months of 2019 as compared to 2018. At least 2,737 murder incidents were reported by police from January to August this year across the province. However, the police had reported at least 2,742 such cases during the corresponding in 2018. The police also failed to trace 77 murder cases.

During the first eight months of this year, the police reported at least 9,903 kidnapping cases. However, the provincial police had reported 10,236 kidnapping cases during the same period in 2018. Most of the victims were said to be women and children.

Also, the police registered at least 47 cases of kidnapping for ransom this year. Only 35 cases were registered with the police under the head of kidnapping for ransom last year. At least 2,560 rape cases were registered with the provincial police from January to August this year while during the matching period in 2018 the police had reported 2,197 rape cases. Similarly, at least 126 cases of gang rape were also reported by police in eight months of this year against 133 such incidents in 2018.