If you know you are my friend, brother or sister, I kindly request you to install a tracking device in your car. In case they steal it, you will understand its (tracking device) use. Today, I commanded a successful operation that netted someone’s car about to cross the Busia border to Kenya hidden in someone’s compound.”
This was Kampala Metropolitan Traffic Police Commander Norman Musinga’s WhatsApp status about two months ago.
In the second week of September, the owner of the said car woke up to go to work, only to find his Toyota RunX missing from the spot he had left it the previous night.
Like anyone else with missing property, he reported to police about his missing car. Fortunately, he had installed a tracking device in the car.
“When I logged into the tracking device system at 7am, it showed me that the car was in Bugiri District. By 9:40am, it had already been parked in Busia,” he recalls.
“With police, we travelled to Busia as fast as we could as we monitored the movement of the car and found it parked in someone’s compound near the Kenyan border,” he narrates.
Upon interrogating the compound owner, he said he was not aware that the car had been stolen. In the end, we were able to recover it,” he narrates.
Where stolen cars end up
Patrick Onyango, the Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson says most vehicles stolen in Kampala and Uganda are mostly sold across borders in neighbouring countries such as DR Congo, South Sudan and Kenya.
How the cars leave Uganda
According to police spokesperson Fred Enanga, most, if not all vehicles that are stolen from Uganda, are sold or end up in neighbouring countries such as Kenya through shortcuts and ungazetted points at different border lines. The robbers dodge the main roads for fear of being arrested. It does not matter whether it is during the day or night. Motor vehicle robbery is a business that is carried out anytime.
“As a Force, we revamped our cooperation with our Kenyan counterparts through the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation to curb car thefts across borders,” Enanga says.
Dismantled beyond recognition
Beyond just stealing the entire car across borders, internally, when your car is stolen within or outside Kampala Metropolitan Area, it can also be dismantled at different garages to a point where you cannot recognise it. Some of the places where stolen cars are dismantled include Kisenyi, Wandegeya and Ndeeba, among other places. After dismantling, the car is sold in form of spare parts.
“There are garages where your car is dismantled and within minutes, it becomes hard and sometimes impossible to identify it,” Onyango notes.
When change in regional policy fuels car thefts
According to the Traffic and Road Safety (Amendment) Act 2018 that was amended in May 2018, cars older than 15 years or those manufactured before 2004 can no longer be imported into Uganda, yet neighbouring Kenya allows importation of new and second hand vehicles manufactured in 2012 and above. This, therefore, means that Kenya still has many vehicles that are older than 2011 which need spare parts that are becoming difficult to source for from Kenya, but can be found in Uganda.
“With such differences in policies between Uganda and Kenya, robbers in Uganda deal with those in Kenya to steal cars or spare parts from Uganda. This is why some cars stolen in Uganda are intercepted on their way out of Uganda via the Eastern route,” Enanga explains.
Much as there are no current actual statistics about the numbers of cars that have been stolen and sold to other countries including Kenya, as of December 2018, more than 40 cars were recovered by Uganda police in less than two months, with more than 30 suspects arrested.
Car safety tips
Keep your vehicle locked, even while driving. When parked, never leave your keys in the car. Avoid leaving valuables inside your vehicle where passersby can see them.
Avoid known high crime areas even if the alternate route takes longer. Install an anti-theft system in your vehicle if it doesn’t have one. Park it in a well-lit area if possible. Have your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) etched on each of the windows. Leave your car in park with the wheels turned toward the curb or some other obstruction. If confronted by a carjacker, do not resist. Cars can be replaced; you can’t. Source: www.geico.com