Highway Robbery and Theft of Goods. Why is it common in India?
Recently while driving on the highway, I came across an overturned truck with the onions it was transporting spread all across the road. The driver and cleaner both had suffered slight injuries and were bleeding, but were still busy running around to gather their goods. When asked why they did not go get some treatment for their injuries, they said, "If we leave the truck unattended for even a minute, everything will get pilfered and shall disappear in no time".
If a vehicle breaks down or has an accident on our highways and is left unattended, things are likely to be pilfered from it.
Yes, this is the sad reality of our country. Leaving your vehicle unattended on a highway, is asking for trouble and chances are that by the time you return, something would have certainly been stolen from it. Over the years I have seen and experienced many incidents of thefts from broken down vehicles, and have even come across vehicles where the windows had been broken to get at the luggage or other stuff left behind. If the vehicle is abandoned for any reasonable length of time, or at night, it's very likely that someone will show up and steal easy to remove parts like the wheels and tyres, battery, audio system, headlights, bumpers and so on. Such car components are not only easy to remove, but they can also be conveniently disposed of in nearby car part shops or markets.
And it's not just stationery vehicles. At time I have even seen people pulling out things like sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, soft drink cans and so on, from moving vehicles! The typical modus operandi is for couple of guys on a two-wheeler to ride really close behind a vehicle transporting any of these goods, and then they reach into the vehicle and pluck out whatever they can lay their hands on.
Even moving vehicles are not spared and some of the sugarcane being transported by this tractor trailer will surely be stolen.
Tragically, even those involved in accidents are not spared and it's common to have things stolen from injured motorists! Many bystanders or people who reach the site of the accident first, genuinely act as good citizens and help the accident victims get out and try to make them comfortable until help arrives. But at times a few nasty characters are also known to join in to steal the wallets, phones, jewelry, bags, etc, that the owner is either too distracted, or in some discomfort or pain, to protect.
What I am unable to figure out is whether this is theft or opportunism? Do people steal from stranded vehicles or injured motorists, because they have an imbedded streak of thievery in them? Or is just taking advantage of a situation that offers one easy pickings? We know that there are people who can get addicted to shop lifting. So do these highway robbers also have some similiar kind of addiction? Or is just something in our system and way of life, which makes it somewhat acceptable to take someone else's belongings? For example even if you look at the wealthy set who fly first class and stay in 5 star hotels, they are also known to regularly lift and take away things like hair dryers, electric kettles, bed sheets, towels, cutlery and what not. It will be great to have your views on this puzzling aspect of the behavior of some of our countrymen.