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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 June 2006, 14:58 GMT 15:58 UK
Indian burglars now target police
By Omer Farooq
BBC News, Hyderabad

Police in Andhra Pradesh
The police are facing a burglary epidemic
Marauding gangs of burglars active in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad in recent months have thrown a direct challenge to the police.

They have now audaciously burgled the home of a policeman who lived next door to the police headquarters.

On top of that, properties near the city police commissioner's office and next door to the director-general of police have also been targeted.

Experts says the robberies are a clear sign of the worsening crime situation.

Wedding

The house of Inspector D Somanna should have been one of the most secure in Hyderabad.

It was located in the police quarters area, next to the state police headquarters.

But in a sign of the ever-increasing audacity of burglars in Hyderabad, this property - like countless others across the city - was broken into while Inspector Somanna and his family were attending a wedding.

According to the police - who needless to say were quick to arrive on the scene - the burglars made their way into the house by breaking open a lock.

They took away items of gold and other valuables worth half a million rupees ($10,876).

Saifabad police station inspector, Rama Narasimha Reddy, said that Inspector Somanna's wife had forgotten to lock the cupboard in which the valuables were kept, making the job of the burglars much easier.

Gold heists

But there is little doubt that this incident - and others which have taken place close to police stations and offices - have highly embarrassed senior officers.

They have now ordered a comprehensive search for the daredevil burglars.

But officers face a hefty workload.

Only last month Hyderabad was rocked by one of the biggest gold heists in India's history.

Robbers helped themselves to gold and jewellery worth thousands of dollars from a showroom in the city.

That incident, too, happened just a stone's throw away from a police station.

In another audacious robbery, thieves broke into a car showroom and took away 6 CCTV cameras and other valuables.

The showroom was adjacent to the police commissioner's office.

The frequency of such robberies shows the full extent of Hyderabad's crime spree and in particular the problems posed by burglars.

The rising spiral of crime has left many residents of the city feeling insecure, and there have been increasing calls for the police to be far tougher in their efforts to stamp out the menace.


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