The Search


“What time were we supposed to meet?” He asked as he unlocked the padlock to his room.


“9.30” Navin replied.


“What time is it now?”




“You guys are late” and as he said that, he opened the door to let us in to his room.


It was stuffy and smelt of cigarette. And to our right was the photo taking section where criminals would be asked to stand infront of the number plate thing.


I can’t reveal the Inspector’s name. So we shall call him The Photoman.


The Photoman then stood at the centre of his room, looked at us and smiled. “This is my room” He said. We looked around. There were three rooms. The first room which was brightly lit, had a television set connected to a laptop. I guess that’s where he did his “creating” process. The main room, which was the room we were in was the room where they took pictures. I can’t tell what’s in the second room because it was dark. The second room was where the files were kept and he also says that’s where he takes his naps.


He works on call, around the clock.


He told us to relax ourselves and sit. Make ourselves feel at home. I was really glad, Sangkaran and Thubin came with Navin and me. The both of us were really stressed out.


He talked to us in English but it was rusty and Sangkaran told him that he could speak in Malay instead. So he spoke in his mother tongue. And here was what he explained, “Now, there are two options. Since Navin said he identified the mugger, we can either spend 4 hours sitting with me and doing the photo fit or spend the 4 hours looking through the mug shots of the culprits.”


There was silence and then he broke it, “Photo fit is a process where by you tell me how the culprit looks like and I create a resemblance of him/her using the software. It’s a tedious process and chances of the exact resemblance is only 20 to 30%. However, the mug shot is a good option because you can easily identify your assailant but there’s cons too. We have mugshots of the culprits from all the years. But i’ll show you the ones from the last four (2006 to recent). But here’s the cons, the culprits may look different. In the photo he may be clean shaven, but when he attacked you, he was bearded. That’s the drawback. But the chances are higher compared to the photo fit option”


We listened and then he told us calmly, “You guys have the freedom to choose. But I want to ask, when you guys got attacked, was it in daylight or dark?”


“In the dark” Navin said.


“Now, if we do the photo fit option and we do get a resemblance of the culprit, chances are, we might catch the wrong person. And this may lead to court cases and when you’re in court cases, you can’t tell the judge that what you saw could have been him. It should be a definite answer. Yes or no. Not maybe, or could be…”


We looked around each other. Deep down I was praying Navin go for the mugshot photo option because chances are, those idiots would have been caught before. I bet this was not the first time they did mugging.


“Take your time, think it over. And don’t be influenced by what I said, but just do what you guys think is the right and best thing to do” The Photoman said.


There was silence. All eyes were on Navin. “We’ll go with the Mugshot option”


“Very well then” He stood up and started arranging chairs around so that all of us could sit, went into the second room and brought files after files of criminal records dating from the first of January 2006 right up to the recent 2010 criminal records.


“What we’re looking for are young Indian boys. In these files, we have photos of every criminals, male and female from all races. So don’t focus on the rest, just focus on young Indian boys”


I sat next to Navin and went through them while Thubin and Sangkaran chatted with the Photoman.


It was an eye opener. What I saw in the files made me realise that we have criminals walking amongst us. Those photos, consisted of thieves, rapists, murderers, con men, con women, etc. They had adolescents. They had innocent looking girls. They had everything.


I even saw photos of school mates that I knew and befriended.


We spotted some people who resembled our culprits and wrote their Serial Number down on a piece of paper. And after 2 hours, we had 20 or so numbers of possible culprits.


Then we spent the rest of the last 1 hour going through them.


The Photoman was really helpful. He adviced us on thing and told us about his job which was truly an eye opener and said that whatever we hear or read in the press is just half of the story.


Here’s how the last process went. First we looked at the Serial Numbers of the culprits and then checked out their criminal records and the location of the last criminal activity and also the place they’re residing.


Most of the criminals we spotted were off tracked. But still, The Photoman told us we were getting nearer.


And soon, at the end of the whole process. We had 5 possible culprits and I’m 80% sure one of them is the culprit.


The Photoman then told us we did a great job and said, “Now, your part is done. The rest, leave it to us.”


“So what happens now?” I asked.


“We would get these guys and call you guys back. We will make them stand in a room, don’t worry, they can’t see you from inside. All you have to do is just pin point and tell us who’s the culprit.”


My heart was in my mouth. What if the dude rushes to the mirror to see us. I guess Navin had the same thing running in his head.


“What if he stands close to the mirror to see us”


“No, he won’t be able to see you no matter how close he stands to the mirror. And we would make sure he doesn’t attempt to see you”


We walked out of the Police Station relieved. On the way home, we revisited the crime scene again. I guess I was a little disturbed by the whole ordeal and didn’t want to go through that place, but I have to be brave.


I hope they catch those bastards.


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