Karachi: Vehicle theft rate on the way up
KARACHI: Reviewing the statistics of vehicle thefts, it seems that this particular crime increased during the past few months. During the month of August about 2,070 vehicles were snatched and stolen from various parts of the city. Despite the availability of resources, Anti–Car Lifting Cell (ACLC) failed to control the rising vehicle crime, as in August more than 100 cars were snatched, while more than 440 cars were stolen. The statistics of two wheelers revealed that more than 400 motorcycles were snatched and more than 1,100 motorcycles were stolen within a month. The ACLC failed to accomplish any major recoveries and neither did it manage to bust a major gang.
Furthermore, bandits prefer stealing Suzuki Alto, Cuore, Toyota and Honda. The high risk areas now-a-days are Clifton, North Nazimabad, Gulberg, Shah Faisal, Liaquatabad and New Karachi Towns.
These vehicles are mainly stolen for their CNG kits. Most of the criminals involved in this crime are those who have been released after they were arrested for their involvement in car lifting cases. The snatched vehicles are also used in street crimes and terrorist acts.
In this regard it is observed that 82 per cent of the car owners and 96 per cent of motorcycle owners do not have additional locks and anti-theft devices installed in their vehicles.
The ACLC has the job of arresting and interrogating the criminals involved in vehicle lifting. They also have to collect information as well as the recovery of the snatched or stolen vehicles. It is also their job to monitor and analyse the trends of vehicle lifting and modus operandi. They are further expected to co-ordinate with the police of other districts, regions and provinces and several other responsibilities which include the provision of the investigation cost budget to the ACLC from Operations and Investigations Department.
Moreover, in the year 2007, an ex-Provincial Police Officer Sindh had re-organised the ACLC. After the re-organisation the Investigation of the cases relating to snatched and stolen vehicles was assigned to the zonal police. The ACLC was only expected to identify and bust the inter-provincial gangs of vehicle snatchers and thieves in Karachi.
In these limited resources, the former Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Khuram Waris in his ten-month tenure challenged more than 300 cases, arrested 290 suspects, 14 proclaimed offenders and busted more than 44 gangs. Furthermore, more than 5,000 vehicles, five Kalashnikovs, 60 pistols, one repeater, two shot guns, two revolvers and more than 300 rounds were recovered. However, presently the services of ACLC have decreased in terms of recovery and detection.
Previously, the ACLC had started recovering vehicles from the upcountry side, and established 54 kilometre check-posts, Sussi Toll Plaza and coordination with the tracker companies, inform sources. The surveillance of middle and lower-middle class hotels, sweeping of parking area and lots, surveillance of markets of spare parts and vigil on transport stands were all carried out by the ACLC, added the sources. However, these practices have now been stopped.
The sources maintained that before the posting of the present ACLC Chief Amin Khan Yousufzai, the ex-ACLC Chief presented a briefing at a high level meeting at the Central Police Office (CPO) regarding the problems faced by the ACLC and its recommendations.
Following were his reasons and recommendations:
The trials for the cases are usually delayed and the accused manage their bails within no time. In a few cases the bail is granted within 30 days, therefore, the officer recommended that speedy trials and separate courts for trials relating to ACLC cases with a panel of renowned prosecution lawyers for the ACLC cases. Former chief further recommended that those charged by the ACLC should be Challaned in the Anti–Terrorism Court.
Regarding the recovery of vehicles from other provinces, the officer recommended that the permission of Provincial Police Officer Sindh and concerned province should be sufficient to affect recoveries and investigations in other provinces.
Furthermore, unidentified vehicles due to the tampering of engines and chassis numbers should be disposed off with the help of auctions. Criminals use these vehicles, identification numbers on stolen vehicles to make them legal. The officer recommended that such vehicles should be given to the government department for official duties in order to discourage the criminals.
Moreover, the Excise department should ensure the delivery of official number plates at the time of registration. Regarding the fake number plates which facilitate the criminals, the officer recommended that most security features like hologram, laser written serial number and a reflecting surface, should be added to the registration plate.
Interestingly, after the briefing, the ex–ACLC chief was transferred. The sources claimed that the rising vehicle crime issue should be taken seriously and a strict policy should be adopted.