The police in Kaduna State are fully stretched combating car thieves
At about 9 am, Friday, March 28, 2009, Mr. Ayodele Adelanwa went to pay a condolence visit to a friend that lost his wife during childbirth at Barnawa area of Kaduna. He parked his car outside the house and went in to see his friend. According to him, he spent just a few minutes, but when he came out he discovered that his car, a Honda, had been stolen.
Three days after Adelanwa’s car was stolen, one Joshua Bawa, a banker lost his Toyota Carina II in similar circumstances. Bawa explained that he drove his wife who was in labour pangs to St. Gerald’s Hospital, Kakuri, Kaduna with the intention of dropping her there for medical attention. But the doctor sent him back home to get some items needed after delivery. He got to his Ungwar Sunday residence opposite Deeper Life Bible Church and parked his car outside his rented apartment. But before he came out of the house, his car had vanished. Bawa was left with no option but to take public transport back to the hospital to deliver the items before he later reported the case of his stolen car to the police.
The pathetic case of Adelanwa and Bawa are not peculiar in the state as in recent times, particularly within the last four months, car theft has been on the increase, reaching a point that the police in the state, on a daily basis, receive an average of two reports of stolen cars. This disturbing statistics compelled the Kaduna Police Commissioner, Tambari Yabo Mohammed, to issue an order to his men to conduct “Stop and Search” exercise in identified black spot areas. The exercise yielded dividend, as within two weeks of its commencement, over 50 cars were recovered and six car thieves arrested. Indeed, in the past two years, armed robbery has drastically reduced in Kaduna, largely due to the presence of heavily armed Operation Yaki teams strategically stationed around the major parts of the state. But criminals will always find other crooked ways of eking out a living, so it was not surprising to many that they settled for car stealing, since it fetches them immediate money to spend.This magazine learnt from some of the suspects arrested that a stolen new car, referred to as grade one, is sold for N300,000 and above, fairly new ones fetch between N200,000 and N250,000. Their clients are mechanics and car dealers, who find customers for the stolen cars. On a tip-off from some of the arrested thieves, two car dealers and a mechanic were nabbed and paraded by the police for their involvement in the business. A confession by one the arrested dealers revealed that car stealing business thrives because there is a ready market for stolen vehicles, especially now that quality Tokunbo cars sell for between N600,000 and N1 million. But the Kaduna State Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Aminu Lawan told TheNEWS that the police are doing everything to ensure that car stealing is stopped in the state. He, however, expressed displeasure at the carelessness of car owners who, according to him, “park their cars without properly securing them”.
Despite the considerable efforts of the police, reported cases of stolen cars within Kaduna metropolis in recent times show that car thieves continue to make life frustrating for car owners in the state. Although car owners have tried to beat the thieves by buying pedal and steering locks, and installed other security devices in their cars, these measures have not been of much help, as the thieves also have developed local master keys that can unlock the security devices. Again, car thieves have invaded Kaduna from neighbouring states, moving around the state, particularly in areas within the metropolis. Their targets are banks, hospitals and markets where many cars are parked. They also crawl through Barnawa, Malali, Ungwar Rimi and Sabon-Tasha, areas where rich people reside, to steal cars even in daylight. Some car owners who reside in the areas lamented that there is no week they wake up without hearing report of a car stolen. They, however, commended the police for their efforts in curbing the trend.
Speaking to this magazine at the Kaduna Police Headquarters, where they were paraded recently, Mohammed Sani, one of the thieves, revealed that before they go out for operation they have locally manufactured master keys soaked in charms for seven days to guarantee efficiency. The charm helps them to evade police and onlookers during and after operation. Police records show that between January and March, this year, over 50 cars, mostly Honda and Toyota brands, were reported stolen, with the highest number occurring during the two-week National Sports Festival, when 15 cars were officially reported stolen. But the cheery news is that the police said it was able to recover seven of the stolen cars, with some of the thieves and their accomplices arrested.