It was 1am when I heard my door bell ring. The watchman was standing in front of our door asking me to open.
The 2003 dacoity incident flashed before my eyes for a moment.
I opened the door and enquired. He said that there were some police personnel who have come searching for a suspect, who as per their information, is hiding in one of the apartments in the second floor.
Just then, I heard my tenant calling me on my mobile. She sounded tense and told me that the men who were standing in front of her door were threatening to break in. She mentioned that they even closed the door eye view with their hand.
I rushed to the tenant’s apartment and found four men knocking the door loudly. I asked them from which police station they belonged to. They paused for a moment and said that they were a special team spent by the Suburban Police to capture a criminal who is hiding in the apartment and that two of them were Sub-Inspectors of Police.
I asked them to show their ID cards, which they did. It was an ID card in a laminated pouch which contained basic details. I called my tenant over phone and asked her to open the door assuring her that I was waiting outside and that the four men were police.
She opened the door, and I was surprised to find her husband along. I thought he was traveling and that she was alone. Both were tense with fear and when they saw me, complained about the way the men were threatening them.
I asked the men why they blocked the door view, for which one of them said that it was by mistake his jacket covered the view.
They then asked for the tenant’s name and for how many months they have been residing in the apartment. Convinced that the criminal was not in their apartment, they stepped downstairs.
I asked the tenant to close the door and stay safe until I returned.
I spoke to the four men and asked whom they were looking out for. One of them answered, “A man about my size and color (about 5.5 feet tall with dark complexion) who has a son aged 10 years and living with a woman who is not his wife.” He added saying, “this criminal is involved in house breaking and it is not safe for any of you living near him.”
I said that one such person did live in the apartment in the third floor, and we found him suspicious.
I told them that I do not own three of the apartments in this block, and that I shall pass on their owner details in the morning.
They then left asking us to be cautious of such criminals and said that they will come in the morning to collect the details.
I found something fishy. I rushed to the balcony and checked out which vehicle they had come. It was not a police vehicle, but an ordinary van.
I asked my security if he had noted down the vehicle number, and he regretted.
I realized that none of the four men were in uniform and neither of them had a police haircut or wore police boots. For the benefit of doubt, I alerted our watchman not to allow anyone inside without informing me.
I called the police control room to complain about the incident. They passed on the suburban police number asking me to complain here.
At the suburban police station, a cop asks me, “Why do you disturb me around midnight and ask if the people who visited your premise were from my station? Why did you not call when they were around? You should have asked them for their station phone number and called that station instead of calling here. How would I know?”
I mentioned that the number was given to me by the control room and that I shall inform the Commissioner’s office about his response.
“Please do so,” he replied and cut the line. I was amused for a moment.
I called my tenant and passed on the Thirumangalam police station number and the Sub Inspector’s mobile number, and asked her to inform them about the incident.
Within ten minutes the cops arrived in a police jeep. There were all in uniforms and conducted a thorough enquiry for over 30 minutes.
The Sub-inspector stated that as they brought the watchman along to enquire at the tenant’s place it is possible that they are genuine cops. Else, they would have first hurt him to gain entry.
I said that it is better to be cautious, and asked him to show his id card as I wanted to confirm if the cards shown by the two men were genuine. But, it was different.
This morning, I asked the tenant to give a formal complaint to the police. She has not done it as yet, and says that she will ask her husband to do it tomorrow.
The four men have not returned asking for details of the tenant who vacated a month ago.
As of now, the Thirumangalam cops say that they are unable to trace as to which police station has sent their special team.
So, what does one do when such things happen?
- Don’t panic. Don’t open the door even if it is your security who is asking you to.
- Call your local police station for help.
- If they are genuine police, any special team would inform the local police station before they come in the middle of the night to enquire.
- Document the incident by filing a FIR in the nearby police station
- Have grilled doors. Don’t open the door until you are convinced.
- Have a thorough check about your tenants before you rent your premise
- File a copy of the tenant’s details in the prescribed format at your local police station