Smugglers Minting Millions in Kenyan Car Theft Syndicate

  • The port of Mombasa.
    The port of Mombasa.
  • A group of highly connected smugglers have been minting millions using forged documents to slip stolen cars into Kenya.

    According to the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), its platforms have been infiltrated by crooks who work in cahoots with the smugglers.

    “NTSA has been in the process of reviewing and re-platforming the Transport Integrated Management System following the implementation of data recovery system,” NTSA’s senior deputy director in charge of communication Dido Guyatu told the media.

    This was after they realised the smugglers have been using the platform to generate fake documents for the stolen vehicles (mostly luxury cars) that are then sold to unsuspecting Kenyans.

    File image of cars pictured at the Port of Mombasa
    File image of cars pictured at the Port of Mombasa
    Daily Nation

    According to a recent investigation carried out by the Standard, most of the high-end vehicles are stolen from parts of South and East Africa.

    Not even vehicles are attached to Presidents are safe from the crooks. In 2018, a vehicle attached to Uganda President Yoweri Museveni was stolen only to be found and recovered in Kenya a year later.

    In the same year, cars attached to President Uhuru Kenyatta were also stolen, but later recovered in Tanzania.

    Investigations have since revealed that once a vehicle is stolen, the criminals either strip it for its parts, or obtain forged number plates and smuggle them across the customs check points.

    Once inside the country, the cars are mostly parked in various car yards or sold at bazaars.

    When whole vehicles are moved across the border, there’s no regional shared database on vehicle registration that allows for a common search. This makes it hard to trace a stolen vehicle.

    The car theft has reportedly expanded its network to the United Kingdom, a fact which came to light when 16 luxury vehicles were intercepted at the Port of Mombasa in May 2019.

    According to the ships manifest, the 20-foot containers in which the cars were found were supposed to be ferrying household goods to Uganda.

    The UK and Kenyan government have since been collaborating to stem the vice, with Port of Mombasa bust one of the success stories involving agents from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Interpol and security agents from the UK.

    In terms of cars stolen within Kenya’s borders, the recent report published by the Association of Kenya Insurers (AKI), white station wagons are the number one choice for car thieves, with silver their second color of choice.

    An estimated 1,300 cars are reported as stolen in Kenya each year, translating to at least 4 vehicles disappearing each day.

    Used cars yard.
    A used cars yard.
    criminal thieves stolen suspect