How Police Nabbed Trickster Car Thieves in Nairobi After 8 Years

  • Police display fake number plates they recovered from car thieves
    Police display fake number plates they recovered from car thieves
    File
  • Police investigations have finally unmasked a car theft syndicate that has seen hundreds of motorists lose their vehicles to unarmed thieves using tricks to deceive car owners.

    The criminals have been so organised in their operations such that they have escaped experts from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and Flying Squad Unit for eight years.

    Police data shows that 321 vehicles have been stolen in Nairobi alone in the last six months. This translates to 53 vehicles a month.

    Two vehicles with similar number plates at Nairobi County Police headquarters on November 19, 2018.
    Two vehicles with similar number plates at Nairobi County Police headquarters on November 19, 2018.
    File

    On March 6, three people were arrested by the DCI in connection with the car theft crime. One of them is a former military officer, the other is a man who claims to be an engineer working for an international organisation while the third one is a former professional boxer who also worked as a car sales agent in Westlands, Nairobi.

    They were arrested by the DCI after a car reported stolen in Buruburu was found in the possession of one of the suspects. After a search in one of the arrested suspects house, the DCI found a notebook with registration numbers of 45 cars. The list included cars that were recorded to be stolen in the police database.

    The notebook also contained detailed entries of vehicles, their makes, colours, the first day they saw the vehicles and the progress of follow- up meetings.

    DCI also recovered 300 sim cards and 80 ID cards. According to the police, the identification documents were used for sale documents and in registering mobile numbers used by the gang in the operation.

    Tactics used by the car thieves

    First, the gang steals Identity Cards (ID) which they use to register SIM Cards. They then identify people selling their cars through online platforms and public notices. After identifying the cars, they reach out to the seller and plan a meeting where according to reports, they offer a good deal.

    After a deal is reached, a sales agreement is signed. The thieves use the stolen ID names when signing the agreement.

    On the day when the money is to be paid, the car thieves arrange to meet the seller at a bank. They then ask the seller to hand over the car keys to a mechanic who is supposed to conduct a test drive while the two transact the money.

    After entering the bank, the buyer disappears into the crowd. It is at this moment that the seller realises that the car is gone and the contact they were given by the buyer is no longer working.

    The police say that the car thieves are spread across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and many motorists could be driving stolen cars without knowing since the car thieves have already altered the details of the car.

    Four cars seized at Nyeri Police Station for having suspicious registration numbers
    Four cars seized at Nyeri Police Station for having suspicious registration numbers
    File
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