The gang snatching government officials’ cars in Karachi seems to be miles ahead of the police. Over the last couple of days, the gang has managed to snatch at least two government vehicles, bringing the tally of the current year to 33.
On September 8, unidentified men had snatched a black Toyota Corolla bearing government registration number JS-999 from a driver of Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar from Khayaban-e-Bukhari in Defence Housing Authority.
While the law enforcers were busy in tracing the criminals involved in snatching the mayor’s car, the gang struck again -- this time getting away with the car in the use of Sindh Assembly secretary GM Omar Farooq from Sacchal locality on Sunday.
“Three armed men were behind snatching a black Toyota Corolla from the secretary’s driver,” District Malir SSP Sheraz Nazeer explained. “They [the snatchers] stopped the car and then snatched it at a gunpoint.”
A case has been registered and the investigation transferred to the ACLC. According to a comparison report prepared by the Karachi police’s Anti-Car Lifting Cell (ACLC), a total of 33 official vehicles have been snatched and stolen in the year 2018. Nineteen of the vehicles were snatched and 14 stolen.
A total of 42 government vehicles were snatched in 2017. Of them 16 had been snatched and 26 stolen. A year before that, 21 government vehicles had been snatched and stolen. The number of stolen vehicles was 19.
The report further revealed that no gang involved in the government vehicles’ lifting was busted in 2016 and 2017, while only six stolen government vehicles were recovered in 2016 and one snatched and nine stolen vehicles were retaken in 2017.
However, the ACLC report said the authorities claimed a major success in tracing and busting gangs involved in government vehicles’ theft in Karachi. A total of 15 members of three gangs operating in the city have been arrested, and one snatched and two stolen vehicles recovered this year.
“Snatching and stealing government vehicles is not a new trend as it has been continuing from the last three years in Karachi,” said ACLC chief SSP Munir Shaikh while talking to The News. “Stealing and snatching government vehicles is a soft target and the primary reason is that these vehicles do not have trackers installed.”
The officer said his cell was going to launch a full-fledged drive against the gang or gangs involved in the lifting of government vehicles. “Our focus is firstly on detection and then prevention,” he explained.
The officer claimed that the snatched and stolen government vehicles were mostly smuggled to Balochistan via different routes. “Parts of Balochistan, especially Quetta, is the primary hub where these vehicles are transported from Karachi,” SSP Shaikh revealed.
“And the gangs operating in Karachi belong to Khairpur and Shikarpur and their caste is Bhayo’ caste.” The officer said that they had doubts about another caste but its identity could not be revealed as the investigations were under way.
SSP Shaikh said that the vehicles’ lifting was not as simple as it seemed, but it was a lengthy process. “Vehicles’ lifting is divided into around seven elements, such as snatchers, thieves, carriers, purchasers, mechanics, fake document makers and informers and each has its own role,” he explained.
“Usually, the lifters are using multiple routes in transporting the vehicles, including Sir Aga Khan Bridge that connects Thatta and Tando Muhammad Khan and Hub is the second most favourite route.” The ACLC chief said that the lifters also used the Kutcha areas of Sakran when crackdowns began on them.
Talking about the Intizar Ahmed murder case, he said the case was also linked to the lifting of government vehicles. “The ACLC police were deployed in order to trace and arrest the suspects involved in the government vehicles’ lifting, but unfortunately Intizar was killed mistakenly,” he explained.
According to the ACLC report, white, silver, grey, black and blue colours are among the top five with Toyota, Suzuki and Honda vehicles, respectively. Apart from official vehicles, the report further revealed that a total of 3,500 cases of vehicles’ lifting – both four wheelers and two-wheelers -- have so far been reported in 2018. As many as 1,296 suspects of 74 gangs have been arrested, and 51 four-wheelers and 841 two-wheelers have been recovered.