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Monday, 21 May, 2001, 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK
'Monkey-man' cuts Delhi crime
Delhi street
Delhi streets are said to be safer now
By Ayanjit Sen in Delhi

The crime rate in the Indian capital is said to have fallen dramatically after the recent scare over the mysterious "monkey-man".

Delhi police say the fall is a result of greater vigilance by local residents after the creature was spotted in many of the city's suburbs last week.

Delhi police officer
Police say increased vigilance has scared away criminals
The creature - described as part man and part monkey - allegedly attacked people who were sleeping on the roofs of their homes to escape the summer heat.

The reports caused widespread panic, and vigilante groups and local residents fanned out on Delhi streets in an attempt to track down the mystery attacker.

A senior police official told the BBC that many residents now spent the entire night watching over their homes armed with iron rods and wooden sticks.

The increased vigilance meant that even ordinary robbers and muggers were now more afraid to carry out attacks.

Mystery attacker

Delhi has one of the highest crime rates in India and recent studies show crime levels steadily rising in recent years.

Since reports of the monkey-man surfaced, only six criminal acts have been reported in East Delhi - from where most of the sightings have been reported.

This is in contrast to the first 10 days of May, when more than 50 criminal acts were recorded.

Monkey in Delhi
There are thousands of wild monkeys in Delhi
The monkey-man was reported to police more than three weeks ago, but the number of sightings and general sense of panic reached fever-pitch last week.

It was described as a creature about four-and-a-half feet (1.3m) tall, dark, hairy and either with a monkey face or possibly wearing a monkey mask.

Police are still investigating the reports.

One theory is that a rogue male monkey is causing the panic.

There are thousands of wild monkeys in Delhi and attacks are common.

Another theory is that a man in a mask is responsible, although police say several people would have to be involved because many of the reported attacks are some distance apart.

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See also:

18 May 01 | South Asia
Delhi vigilantes hunt 'monkey-man'
17 May 01 | South Asia
Monkey mystery baffles Delhi
15 May 01 | South Asia
Mysterious 'man-monkey' strikes Delhi
09 Jan 01 | South Asia
Monkeys invade Delhi government
14 Apr 00 | South Asia
Monkeys create havoc in Delhi
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