Crime, Government of India, India, NCRB, Stories

In 2017, the number of Theft cases increased by 15% while the value of Property stolen is down by 50%


The NCRB finally released the ‘Crime in India’ report for 2017 after a long delay. As per the data in the report, the number of cases related to stolen property increased by 15% in 2017 while the total value of property stolen decreased by almost 50%.

Annually, property worth lakhs of rupees is stolen in India. Property includes motor vehicles, cattle, purses, gadgets, jewellery and other material belongings of a person. Only a small fraction of the total property lost is recovered. Among the states, Maharashtra accounted for more than 30% of the property stolen in terms of value followed by Delhi in 2017.

In this story, we take a look at what the latest data from ‘Crimes in India’ report has to tell with respect to stolen property and its recovery. On 21 October 2019, National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) finally released the much anticipated ‘Crimes in India’ report of 2017 after a delay of almost 1.5 years.

7.39 Lakh cases of stolen property recorded in 2017

NCRB Theft Data_Trend in number of cases of stolen property

A total of 7.39 lakh cases involving stolen property were registered in 2017. This is by far the largest number of cases registered. An increase by 15.2% has been observed in the number of stolen property-related cases as compared to 2016 when 6.41 lakh such cases were reported.

However, surprisingly, the value of property stolen has reduced by 48.6% in 2017 compared to the year 2016. The total value of stolen property in 2017 was Rs. 5002.5 crores compared to Rs. 9733.1 crores in 2016. In other words, the average value of property stolen per reported case decreased drastically from Rs. 1.51 lakh in 2016 to Rs. 67606 in 2017. This could mean that the theft cases reported in 2017 were smaller in nature compared to 2016. Though the highest ever such cases were reported in 2017, the value of property stolen in 2017 is the lowest since 2010.

Over the 17 years since 2001, there has been anincrease in the number of such cases by 87% while the value of the stolen property increased by 229% largely due to a higher valuation of the property.

NCRB Theft Data_Trend in value of cases of stolen property

Indian Penal Code defines theft, robbery, dacoity and burglary differently

Sections 379 to 382 of the Indian Penal Code deals with theft, robbery and dacoity. These are further described and explained in sections 392 to 398.

  • Theft is committed when someone intends to dishonestly take any movable property under the possession of a person or moves the property in order to take it, without their consent.
  • Robbery is said to have taken place if the property is stolen through intimidation and force.
  • Robbery by a group of five or more persons results in Dacoity.
  • Burglary (Sections 457 to 460) is said to have taken place when there is housebreak or criminal trespass.

Other acts involving the stealing of property include cheating, impersonating and more. The punishment for each of these acts is different. Theft results in imprisonment up to three years and/or penalty. The punishment for dacoity and robbery is severe with 0 to 14 years of imprisonment and a hefty fine. In case of burglary, the guilty will be jailed for a term between 3 months to 2 years in addition to a penalty.

Almost 80% of the cases on stolen property are theft related

Of the 7.39 lakh cases registered in 2017, around 5.89 lakh cases were theft-related. In other words, cases of theft accounted for 79.6% of the crimes under this category. Data also suggests that cases of theft increased by 139% since 2001.

With more than 1.1 lakh cases in 2017,  burglary constitutes 14.9% of cases related to stolen property. Compared to 2015, the cases of burglary have dropped by 3%.  In 2017, around 30,742 cases of robbery have also been registered. Number of cases of Dacoity (3575 cases in 2017) has decreased by 6% compared to 2016. Since 2001, dacoity cases have decreased by more than a third or 36.8%.

NCRB Theft Data_Nature of crimes involved in cases of stolen property

One-third of stolen property related incidents take place in residential areas

Almost 33% of the reported incidents of property being stolen are in residential areas. Roadways accounted for 21% of such incidents. Of this 21% on roadways, 90% of the incidents took place at ordinary roads while 10% where recorded at highways. Dacoity and robbery were most prominent on roadways while theft was the most prominent in other areas. The other places where such cases were reported include railways, schools or colleges, commercial establishments, religious places etc.

Maharashtra and Delhi continue to account for the largest value of property stolen

The top ten states in terms of the value of property stolen in 2017 together constitute 80.6% of the value of property stolen. Despite the drop in the value of property stolen, Maharashtra retains its position of having the greatest value of stolen property in India, accounting for 30.4% of the total value in 2017. In 2015 and 2016, Maharashtra accounted for 55.2% and 34.6% of the value of property stolen respectively. Next in line is the union territory of Delhi which accounted for 15% of the property stolen in India in 2017. In 2016, Delhi accounted for 33.7% of the value of property stolen in India. Excluding Delhi, the remaining six union territories together account for only 0.3% of the value of property stolen in India in 2017. Among the states, Sikkim had the least property stolen with a value of Rs. 1.5 crore which is less than 0.03% of the total value. North-Eastern states of Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura are at the bottom of the list and together account for only 0.6% of the value of property stolen in India in 2017. 

NCRB Theft Data_TOp ten states with crimes involved in cases of stolen property

Motor vehicles are the most sought-after property by thieves

Data suggests that Motor Vehicles are the most sought-after by thieves. In 2017 alone, 2.26 lakh cases (30.5% of the total number of cases) registered were to recover their stolen vehicle. Value-wise, this amounts to one-fourth of the total value of property stolen. Within motor vehicles, motorcycles and scooters make up for 85.4% of the cases.

A total of 1.28 lakh cases (17.3%) in 2017 were registered for stolen electronic gadgets of which 1.04 lakh cases (81% of electronic gadgets) were for mobile phones. Cash and jewellery were the subject of almost 14.9% of the cases while in terms of value, these account for 22.4% of the total value.

Only 25.9% of the stolen property was recovered in 2017

NCRB Theft Data_TOp ten states with high recovery rates

The recovery rate is calculated on the basis of the value of property stolen. At an All-India level, only 25.9% of the property stolen in India was recovered in 2017. That is, for every 100 rupees lost only 25.9 rupees was recovered.

The highest recovery rate was recorded in Tamil Nadu with 77.8% (three times the national rate). States of Telangana, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan have more than 50% recovery rate in 2017.

Despite accounting for more than 45% of the total value of property stolen in India, the recovery rates are poor in Maharashtra (13.7%) and Delhi (10.3%). Mizoram has the lowest recovery rate of 7.3% in 2017.

In terms of the type of property stolen, electronic gadgets have a low recovery rate of 21.3% with mobile phones reporting a recovery rate of just 18.7%. The greatest recovery rate of 73.2% in 2017 was reported in the case of Cultural Property (including Antiques).

Featured Image:NCRB Theft Data


About Author

A bachelor’s degree in mathematics and master’s in social science, she is driven by ardent desire to work with this unique combination to create her own path instead of following the herd. Having served a stint as the college union chairperson, she is a strategist who is also passionate about nature conservation, art and loves solving Sudoku.