ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday February 24, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 39

Crime busters keep a vigilant eye

Rapid response units get into action in Nugegoda area

By Himal Kotelawala

Sub Inspector (SI) Lakmal Jayawickrama and his team of police officers were doing their customary rounds in the Mirihana Police area of the Nugegoda Police Division at night. They were part of the new mobile unit deployed under newly established ‘Security Eye’ programme.

Suddenly their CDMA phone started ringing. It was an operator from the emergency 119 centre on the other end. He alerted the team of a call the emergency centre had received from a resident who said he had spotted his Toyota Hiace van, which was stolen way back in 1997, roaming around the Kotte area.

SP Deshabandu Tennakoon

There was no time to lose. The police van sped in the direction given by the headquarters. They were looking for the van bearing the registration number 53-8035. After a stealthy and thrilling chase, the police van gained in on the Hiace and finally managed to stop it in its tracks at the Janatha Mawatha near the Kotte Raja Maha Vihara.

The driver and two others were arrested and the vehicle handed over to the Kelaniya police in whose area it had originally been stolen. The case against the suspects is pending. In another case a young couple making use of a credit card stopped at Nithyakala Jewelers, Nugegoda where they shopped for jewellery worth Rs 350,000. Then they did some more shopping in the vicinity spending Rs. 100,000 more. These two high profile transactions raised eyebrows at the bank the card was issued from and a bank official dutifully enquired from the card’s owner whether he knew anything about it. Upon getting an answer in the negative, the bank promptly cancelled further payment on the credit card.

The couple’s next stop was Wijeya Saree Center, Nugegoda. They made their selections and headed to the cashier. Their card was rejected. The Security Mobile operating in the neighbourhood was immediately alerted by a law abiding citizen and within minutes the culprits were apprehended. The couple is on bail and a case pending against them.

These are some of the duties performed under the special “Security Eye” programme conducted by the Mirihana Police. The Nugegoda Police Division is on a rigorous drive to rid itself of crime under the watchful eye of Superintendent of Police (SP) Deshabandu Tennakoon of the Mirihana Police. It is one the country’s largest police divisions and is known to have always had a very high crime rate.

Equipped to respond to any emergency call

Speaking to The Sunday Times SP Tennakoon said that five police cars and six vans equipped with CDMA phones function under the Emergency Response Unit and the recently established Security Eye programme being carried out within the entire Nugegoda Police Division. These vehicles are well set to respond to any emergency situation that may arise in the Nugegoda division which covers a vast expanse of land in the Colombo District, from Homagama, to Kotte and Welikada among others.

Members of the public may call any of the hotlines available directly to the emergency vehicles and they would arrive at the scene immediately, he said. With the establishment of the 119 hotline project an efficient and sure-fire way for the public to contact the police in an emergency was put into effect. According to SP Tennakoon this easy to remember three digit number can be dialled from anywhere in the island via a landline or a mobile phone absolutely free of charge , he said.

“Through this number we receive a lot of important information on a daily basis. Each police station in my division has been provided with two motorcycles to respond immediately to a 119 emergency call. All the necessary communication equipment has been provided to police personnel who have been specially appointed to this motorcycle unit. If anyone calls 119 and lodges a complaint a police team will be at his doorstep straight away,” SP Tennakoon said.

Soon after commencing his duties as the head of the Nugegoda Police Division, SP Tennakoon initiated the Security Eye programme with the assistance of the business community to curb crime in the division. This programme has five mobile units (vans) operating under it – two in Mirihana, and one each in Maharagama, Talangama and Welikada police areas, all of which fall under the main Nugegoda division. Each team has been given a CDMA phone with an easy to remember number.

“Security Eye visits places such as supermarkets, filling stations and banks where much money circulation takes place every day,” SP Tennakoon said.

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