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On Monday afternoon, an upmarket neighbourhood in east Delhi was witness to a brazen instance of urban crime. Two unmasked men on a bike pointed their guns at a family, which had briefly parked their car, and rode away with valuables. The duo then reappeared to threaten the family to not report the incident, after which they coolly made a getaway even as bystanders watched in shock.

As Indian cities grow, and zones of wide inequality within urban areas become the norm, opportunistic crimes such as carjacking and chain snatching are bound to rise.

In many ways, Delhi is at the vanguard of what’s in store for all of urban India.

A recent large-scale urban survey by IDFC Institute shows that the most commonly experienced type of crime by an average city resident is theft. And the unfortunate part is that people have such little faith in the system that only 5-8% of incidents get reported in a police station.

A judicious mix of heightened security measures, including CCTVs, and public investments to create adequate legitimate opportunities for all residents is required to ensure India’s urban opportunity doesn’t turn into chaos.

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