On 29 October last year, six to seven bhori of gold were stolen from Professor Jahanara Begum's Banani residence. A case was filed at Banani police station on 7 February, and within a week, the gold was recovered from a jewellery shop in Gulshan's Shahjadpur area. Two members of the theft gang were arrested.
Following the recovery of the stolen gold, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) in a press release said Professor Jahanara Begum was a teacher of DMP Commissioner Md Shafiqul Islam. After the theft, he reported the matter to the commissioner. Later, on instructions of the commissioner, detective police arrested two members of the theft gang. Subsequently, on 16 February, the DMP Commissioner called his teacher to the DMP headquarters and handed over the recovered gold to her.
The investigating officer of the case said at the time, as the victim of the theft was a teacher of the DMP Commissioner, the police carried out a serious operation and were able to unravel the mystery of the incident in just one week.
Meanwhile, on 22 August, thieves cut through the window grill of a fourth-floor house of former Additional IGP of Police Mozammel Ahmed in Eskaton in the capital and made off with gold jewellery worth around 40.65 lakh taka (44.95 bhori). Police are yet to identify those involved in the theft even after almost one month of the incident.
"We are still investigating the incident. The Ramna Division of DB is also working with us on the matter. We have not identified anyone yet. Hopefully, we will be able to arrest those involved very soon," Abul Hasan, officer-in-charge (OC) of Ramna Police Station told The Business Standard.
As the victim in this incident is a former senior police officer, there is a lot of police activity in the case. Members of the detective police and Ramna police station are visiting the house at regular intervals, reporting the progress of the investigation. At the same time, a joint commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police also visited the house, while members of the CID crime scene collected evidence, which is not usually seen in theft cases, according to neighbours.
On the contrary, in cases of theft incidents in the homes of ordinary citizens, such seriousness of the police is rarely seen.
Police officials have themselves said that they take thefts at the homes of important or respected people seriously.
Marcia Lily Mridha, musician with Bangladesh Ansar and VDP, has been living in West Rampura area of the capital for more than a decade. Burglary took place at her house four times this year. She claimed every time the locks were opened using some kind of chemical and her belongings were looted.
Marcia Lily Mridha told The Business Standard that burglaries occur frequently in the building and the surrounding area. She did not file any case after police were unable to make much progress in the initial theft incident.
Hatirjheel Police Station OC Abdur Rashid was asked about the complaints regarding regular thefts in the area and the role of the police station, but he avoided giving a response to the question.
There have also been reports of theft in many houses in the capital's Tejkunipara and surrounding areas. Victims have reported that valuables, including mobile phones, were stolen from their homes.
"Thieves broke the lock of my house. When I wrote down the details of the incident and went to file a case at Tejgaon police station, they did not take the case. Instead of mentioning theft, they noted that the items were lost. There was no action from the police," Rizvi, who lives at the Commissioner Goli of Tejkuni Para, told The Business Standard,
"Even though I contacted the police several times on my own, they did not do any investigation," he said, adding that many in his locality suffered in the same way but chose to not take any legal steps.
There are allegations against the police that they take general diaries (GDs) for "lost" items in cases related to burglaries. On the other hand, in the cases, which are taken for what they are, investigations take a long time. As a result, the thieves' gangs remain free out there and burglary incidents keep rising.
A DMP officer, who oversees investigations of several theft cases, told The Business Standard that the investigation of theft cases is often more difficult than the investigation of murder cases.
"In the case of murder, the accused leave some clues, which make it easy to identify the killers. But in most burglaries, there are no clues, with burglars targeting homes in isolation, with which they have no connection. They roam around and steal whenever they get the chance. That's why the investigation of theft cases takes a long time. Besides, the police are busy with other work," he said, adding that sometimes the family of the theft victim is also non-cooperative.
Meanwhile, at the crime review meeting at police headquarters, the issue of increasing theft came up for discussion.
It was revealed in the meeting that there were 516 theft cases across the country in July. The number increased to 618 in August.
It was mentioned at the meeting that due to the recent price hike of commodities, burglaries have been on the rise.
Professor Omar Farooq of the criminology department at MaulanaBhashani University of Science and Technology said this observation of the police matches their findings.
He told TBS that the prices of everyday goods are increasing but the standard of living is not improving, so crimes like theft are happening more now.
However, he believes that citizens are also responsible for theft.
Professor Omar Farooq said that mainly due to the lack of manpower, the police are more active in other crimes and in most instances they are reluctant to accept theft cases.
"The police should, however, investigate petty thefts seriously, while also collecting details about arrested gangs and keeping them under surveillance. Many a time many people move on from theft and get involved in crimes like murder and rape," he said.
DMP case data show that 1,580 cases have been recorded from January to August. The highest number of home burglaries was 49 in January and 73 in August, followed by motorcycle and car thefts, with 42 cases reported in August from 31 in January.
However, the statistics related to cases do not provide a true picture of theft as many do not file theft cases.
The national emergency service hotline 999 received 7,503 calls reporting burglary from January to August. In January 925 theft incidents were reported to 999 while 1,104 cases were reported in August.
DMP Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime and Operations) AKM Hafiz Akhter said 73 theft cases were reported at different police stations in September.
"The actual number is more than that. Victims do not file lawsuits because of the legal complications involved in minor thefts," he said, adding the police are creating a database of thieves to reduce theft and the database currently lists more than four thousand thieves in Dhaka.
He also said whenever an incident escalates, the DMP tries to reduce it.
"Now we are specifically monitoring theft cases. Electronic devices are more likely to be stolen during the day while thieves target empty houses at night," he added.
He pointed out that many thieves are quickly released on bail and many victims do not report minor thefts, contributing to the increase in the number of burglary incidents.