IT has long been held as one of India's most organized and well-protected cities, but Chandigarh could be fast losing that enviable reputation with all types of crimes going up substantially in 2007.
Vehicle thefts, murders, rape, rioting, robbery, snatchings, accidents and criminal trespass are some of the serious crimes that showed an upward trend as the city beautiful began to show its ugly side.
The 114-square km union territory, which is the twin capital of Punjab and Haryana, has the highest density of vehicles among Indian cities with over 650,000 registered vehicles against a population of just 1.1 million.
But it has also emerged as a favourite haunt for motor vehicle thieves in the region. The last year saw 852 cars and other vehicles being stolen compared to 582 in 2006.
Car thieves operating in the city target high-end vehicles like Scorpios, Toyota Innovas, Skodas as well as Marutis and latest motorbikes. On a single night last month, eight vehicle thefts took place in an area under the jurisdiction of the Sector 36 police station. Many vehicles were stolen from manned paid parking lots.
What is even more embarrassing for the Chandigarh police is the fact that the recovery rate of stolen vehicles is quite poor. Only 210 of the 852 vehicles stolen in 2007 were recovered. In 2006, only 181 vehicles were recovered.
"This is a small city with many exit points. Thieves take advantage of the fact that they are out of the city's limits within minutes of stealing a vehicle. Most cars are taken to Nepal via Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and to northeast states and even Jammu and Kashmir," Chandigarh's inspector general of police SK Jain said.
"We are introducing technical surveillance of parking lots. We have been asking motorists to install anti-theft locks in their vehicles," Jain added.
The police's record in other cases of theft was quite sorry as well. While 'other theft' cases jumped from 705 in 2006 to 888 in 2007, police could manage to make only 381 recoveries in 2007 against 441 recoveries in 2006.
Snatchings have increased too - up from 118 in 2006 to 179 in 2007. Police could solve only 69 of these cases last year.
For a city promoted as north India's biggest commercial centre and increasing numbers of IT and software companies setting up facilities, the rising cases of rioting - up from 44 in 2006 to 79 in 2007 - is also cause of concern.
Murder and rape were up too. There were 19 murders in 2007 against 12 in 2006. And 22 cases of rape reported, three more than the previous year.
The capability of the city police in solving crime cases has taken a beating. In 2007, the total crimes committed were 4,496. Of these, only 2,703 cases were solved. In 2006, the total crimes committed were 4,043 and 2,998 cases were solved.
Accidents in the city, said to be one of the best managed, have generally shown an upward trend. There were 417 accidents in 2004, 529 in 2005, 525 in 2006 and 538 in 2007; 148 persons lost their lives on city roads in 2007, five less than in 2006.