Car theft on the rise, police say

Saturday April 28 2018

How they do it. A suspect demonstrates how car

How they do it. A suspect demonstrates how car thieves use the Luso, a Luganda word meaning “master knife”, to open car doors at the Directorate of Crime Intelligence in Kampala recently. PHOTOS BY ANDREW BAGALA 

By JOSEPH KATO

Figures by the Interpol show that there was a rise in car theft cases in Uganda between 2015 and 2017.
The police figures indicate vehicles stolen from Uganda and smuggled to neighbouring countries rose from 64 in 2015, to 516 in 2016 and swelled to 589 in 2017. December last year, registered the highest number of carjacks with 288 cars reported stolen. It was followed by October that recorded 93 cases, September 86 and 58 cases registered in March this year.
“The five most stolen vehicles include Toyota Premio, Toyota Land Cruiser, Toyota Wish, Toyota Noah and Toyota Super Custom. People trafficking these cars include Ugandans, Congolese, Kenyans and South Sudanese,” reads the report in part.
In 2016, for example, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) topped the destination list of vehicles smuggled within the East African countries followed by South Sudan while Uganda and Kenya came in third and fourth positions, respectively.

Routes
The Interpol spokesperson, Mr Vincent Ssekate, identified the routes used to smuggle vehicles from Uganda as Kampala-Gulu highway to South Sudan via Elegu border post, Kampala-Gulu/Arua highway to DRC via Pakwach, Kampala-Mbale-Busia/Malaba to Kenya, and Kampala-Mbarara-Kasese to DRC.
“For cars smuggled into Uganda, traffickers use Dar-es-Salaam –Mutukula border to Kampala, Mombasa-Nairobi-Malaba/Busia to Kampala and Elegu border-Gulu-Kampala highway. These smugglers know these routes very well and have several forged documents they use to beat security at borders,” Mr Ssekate said.

Tricks used by smugglers
The Interpol report reveals tricks used by smugglers to steal vehicles, as among others, changing the colour and vehicle chassis number, and aggravated robbery, which involves use of weapons such as guns. Police say the records are only of those vehicles whose details were fully recorded but general cases of car theft reported every year staggers to 1,000.
Police attribute this to car owners who call Interpol about their stolen vehicles but do not avail details on whether they recovered them or not.
“The recovery rate is very low because most vehicles are smuggled to DRC whose leadership is not cooperative enough to retrieve the stolen cars. We only recovered 33 cars out of 589 stolen in 2017,” he said.
“Buying a car from a bond doesn’t warrant you safety because our bonds are part of rackets stealing cars. You request buyers to come to Interpol and we help you verify details of a car you are going to buy. The verification process would costs only Shs51,300 but it saves you millions,” he said.

Motorcycle theft
In addition to stolen cars, Interpol recorded 395 cases of motorcycle theft of which only 30 were recovered.

Lost documents
About 3,533 cases of stolen and lost travel documents were registered at the Kampala, Mbale and Mbarara regional offices.
“We received 57 cases of human trafficking involving 93 victims of which 46 were rescued alive; two were dead whereas there was no response on 23 cases. Twenty seven people were trafficked to Oman, eight to Saudi Arabia and nine to UAE,” reads the report in part.

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