Police in Kampala have warned motorists against leaving their car keys at washing bays following the increasing cases of car theft by car washers.
Police said their investigations revealed that when people leave their car keys behind, the shape of a key is imprinted on a piece of soap. A copy of the key is made thereafter and the car trailed until it is stolen.
“We appeal to members of the public not to leave their car keys with people they do not trust,” Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Mr Patrick Onyango advised.
This came after one, Ms Jacklyn Ahimbisibwe, found her new Toyota number UAU 680U missing at Capital Shoppers in Nakawa where she had gone shopping.
Police together with the Pakwach URA enforcement team later recovered the car at a routine point after arresting one person suspected to have stolen the car.
The suspect who is still in detention at Central Police Station in Kampala confessed to detectives that he connived with staff at a washing bay that had duplicated the car keys and trailed Ms Ahimbisibwe for three days before stealing her car.
The suspect allegedly told police that they were headed to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a common destination for vehicles stolen from Uganda.
However, Ms Ahimbisibwe told Police she has been washing her car at different washing bays in Kampala.
Mr Onyango said four stolen vehicles were recovered at the same checkpoint over the year. He said that thieves are interested in Toyota Prado vehicles which are sold in Southern Sudan and DRC probably due to the bad terrain in the two countries.
Last year, the police carried out Operation Usalama on Stolen Motor Vehicles targeting garages, compounds, parking yards, warehouses in and around Kampala, border areas with gazetted and un-gazetted entry points such as Katuna, Mutukula, Busia and Malaba.
According to the 2013 Uganda Police Force annual crimes report 103 stolen motor vehicles were recovered from suspects.