'Vehicle owners must not make it easy for thieves'

Youngsters with no criminal history sometimes take to crime to earn quick money, says additional commissioner of police (crime and railways) Ravindra Yadav
in a conversation with Vishnu Sukumaran.

Excerpts:

Does the rising cases of vehicle theft and the police’s inability to recover them indicate a well-organised nexus of vehicle thieves operating in the capital?

We do not believe any Delhi-based gang is strong enough to carry out massive thefts without being busted. What we have noticed over the years is that youngsters with no criminal history indulge in theft to earn quick money.

Our probe also suggests that most of the thefts were carried out by criminals from neighbouring states who visit Delhi with an intention to carry out multiple thefts in a day.
Several gangs busted in the recent past were being run from Haryana’s Mewat and UP’s Sambhal districts.

Is there any particular modus operandi used by vehicle thieves, and where do they take the stolen vehicles?

They are innovative and keep changing their method of operation to evade police dragnet. The latest noticed involved using online shopping websites to sell stolen vehicles.

It involves educated youngsters, who are acquainted with the latest technology and software available to cheat people. They prepare original-looking fake documents to make stolen vehicle look completely legal. On the other hand, the vehicles also sold to people who cannot afford new and expensive vehicles in far-off villages in Manipur, Jammu and Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh. Sometimes, the vehicles are disassembled and sold as scrap or are delivered to spare parts shops.

What measures are police taking to reduce thefts and catch the criminals?

Well, staff in police stations keep an eye on active vehicle thieves in their areas, and beat patrolling has also been strengthened. We, however, believe that vehicle owners have to be more careful to prevent such cases.

Thefts cannot be prevented if vehicle owners make it easy for auto-lifters by not using basic security options available in the market. Vehicles stolen in the capital are often seized from other states, so we keep effective communication with our counterparts in most of the states. These measures are expected to speed up recovery of such vehicles.

The crime branch has been assigned the task of coordinating with police of north-eastern states. What have your investigations so far revealed?

We regularly send our teams to north-eastern states when we get information about active gangs. Our teams found that stolen vehicles were being sold in these states after re-registration using fake documents and obtaining NOC (no-objection certificate) by using loopholes in the system.

An NOC can be obtained if the regional transport office in Delhi does not respond to letters sent from these states. Even if the RTO (regional transport office) objects, the letters are sometimes destroyed by agents there. Crucial information about the vehicles was also being tampered with.

So, what we need is a computerised system to recognise this cheating.

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