A number of motorists in Nairobi have often been left counting losses as criminals continue to thrive in a delicate business that involves theft and resale of vehicle parts.
Theft of vehicle has been rampant in the capital, with estates such as Kariobangi being the hotbed.
According to the Association of Kenya Insurers, there are ready markets for spare parts especially of cheaper car models like Toyota, Isuzu, and Nissan. Mitsubishi and Mercedes Benz complete the top five.
Volvo, Honda, BMW, Ford, and Hyundai according to AKI, are cars less likely to be stolen and thus a low demand for their parts in the black market.File image showing a car on a jack.
Based on data collected from police officer reports and mechanics, Kenyans.co.ke sought to sample car parts that are most likely to be stolen in Nairobi.
1.Wheels (Rims and Tires). A number of vehicle owners have come back to their vehicles only to find, vehicle spare tires missing, or their cars resting on rocks, after being stripped of their wheels.
Over recent years, survey reports on car theft syndicates in Nairobi have established tyres as one of the most targetted parts. The prices of new tires have often pushed motorists to explore second-hand outlets whose source of parts has often been a matter of contention.
Wheels are most likely to be stolen from parked vehicles and in some daring scenarios, in traffic.
"A week after buying my car, I remember I was stuck in traffic just before the Muthurwa market, in the morning. Something just told me to peak at the side mirror, only to see someone trying to take out a tire from my car," Anthony Kipng'etich told Kenyans.co.ke.
Motorists are adviced to use lock nuts, which often require a key before one can take the wheels off. This will aid in preventing the theft of tires. car alarms are also adviced as to alert of any contact with the car.File image of a car side mirror.
2.Side Mirrors. This is among the most common if not the most common part stolen from vehicles. Kenyans who have reported these parts stolen, have revealed that in most instances, the vehicles are in parking.
"The most cases I have heard and witnessed is the side mirrors. Thieves just rip them off, because their market is readily available," Nyambane, a mechanic based at Adams Arcade along Ngong Road told Kenyans.co.ke.
He advised motorist to examine and understand where they park their cars, because of security, and the surrounding play a major role in your car is safe.
He urged that motorists install car alarms, as the alert can decrease chances of theft.
3. Car Music Players; radio, SD Cards and computer components e.g Portable GPS Systems are a major target for thieves in the city.
John Mbithi, a driver, told Kenyans.co.ke of a time when he left a car packed only to return and find the car radio missing.
"Honestly, it has happened to me a number of times. This one time, I was parked in Tassia, Embakasi East, and I had just stepped out of the car to drop off milk. When I came back, the radio was gone. It happened so fast," Mbithi stated.
He advised motorists to always lock their cars and roll the windows up as an added security measure.
Portable GPS systems have has also been targeted by thieves, with their price reported to range between Ksh8,000 to Ksh30,000 in Kenya's black market depending on the model.File image of a catalytic converter.Business Daily
4. Catalytic converters. According to global reports on car part thefts by Insurance Journal, the theft of catalytic converters has become a global menace. They are not only targeted for resale in the black market but also for the pricey platinum metal they contain.
Your car's catalytic converter is most likely to be stolen when the vehicle is left unattended at garages, or in some instances swapped out by shrewd mechanics.
On January 14, 2021, Bloomberg reported that platinum was selling for Ksh3,680 per gram.
Vehicle owners are adviced to inspect their cars before and after dropping off their cars at the mechanic. In some cases, one is also adviced to have the car licence number written into the catalyst converter
5. Bumpers. This is one of the most sought after parts in the Kenyan car parts market. This is a result of minor accidents and some instances, poor condition of roads which accelerates the wear and tear of these parts.
Your car's bumper is most likely to be stolen in parking lots if parked along congested roads and in garages.
6. Windshield wipers and washers. Nyambane noted that the theft of windshield wipers and washers was also on the rise, as per the reports he has heard of and cases he has handled. He noted that the parts are easy to pluck off and thus thieves go them as easier targets.
This is mostly when cars are in parking, and in some instances, rear shield wipers are stolen from vehicles while in traffic.
7. Head and Rear lights. "Lights are also very common. It doesn't take long before I get clients calling me saying they have lost their lights. They are normally expensive and there is a demand for them in the black market," Nyambane stated.
Car lights are reported to go between Ksh6,500 to Ksh35,000 depending on the lights and car model.
8. Battery. Many motorists have come back to their vehicles only to find the battery missing. Or, a car battery that was just fine, suddenly failing to work. Ochieng' a mechanic at Kajiado's Jua Kali market, revealed that some shrewd mechanics may exchange clients' car batteries.
"You should be cautious about batteries when you bring your car to garages. If you are not careful, it may be exchanged for a faulty one, or for a less quality battery, and after a few days you start experiencing trouble," he stated.
He urged that motorists have the car licence plate number branded into the battery as to detect a possible battery swap. He also advised that vehicle owners be wary of parking in suspicious spots in major towns, as well as ensure the bonnet locks are ever strong.File image of a car's rear showing tow eye covers.Business Daily
9. Tow Eye Covers. These are the small pieces of plastic on the front and rear car bumper which cover the metal rings that allow a vehicle to be towed. Tim Oyoo, a mechanic who spoke to Business Daily on October 20, 2020, revealed that car brands such as BMW, Subaru, Volvo, Mercedes and Range Rover had been targeted by thieves for the tow eye covers.
He stated that the covers went for between Ksh 1,000 and Ksh2,500 per piece in the black market, and depending on the car brand.
“Theft of the tow eye covers has become common because vehicle bumpers look ugly without them and many drivers can’t stand that. Most dealers and new spare shops also don’t stock these covers which makes them a popular item in the black market,” Oyoo was quoted as saying.
Motorists are advised to rivet or glue them to the bumper, and some instances have special towing hooks welded on the vehicle chassis
10. Car jack. This is in most instance lost in garages and when one fails to lock their vehicles. They have a readily available market and command over Ksh3,000 in the black market.
In some instances, residents have reported cases of their licence plates being stolen. In such scenarios, the plates are normally used to sell another stolen car, or by thugs in conducting crime as to limit their chances of being traced.
Motorists are adviced to include their car licence plate numbers in other parts of the car that are detachable such as side mirrors.
Vehicle owners are also urged to avoid parking near exits and entrances as it facilitates easy escape by perpetrators. Leaving valuables exposed in cars is also likely to temp thieves into evaluating one's financial might.
Make it a habit to park in spots with security cameras or personnel nearby.A used cars yard.File
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