Though statistics are scanty, recent reports indicate that there is a rise in incidences of car theft in Abuja, the Federal Capital territory (FCT). Being the seat of government, residents are beginning to get worried about the security lapses that miscreants are taking advantage of to deprive people of their belongings, in this case, their cars. Even worse, according to reports, is the ease with which these thieves get away with their crimes.
On a daily basis, residents recount their woes in the hands of car thieves who appear to be on a rampage in the nation’s capital city. They have evolved overtime and have acquired in the process, a scary expertise in their approach. As part of their modus operandi, some trail their victims and demand for the vehicle keys as soon as their would-be victims get to their destination. Others drive the cars away from where they are parked while some lurk in the dark and wait for the owners of target cars to approach then they pounce on them, dispossess them of the cars and drive off. Still, some of the car thieves, it was gathered, throw raw eggs on the windshield of moving cars and the driver, in an attempt to wipe it off, smears the shield with the yolk and thereby makes visibility poor, and the driver will be compelled to stop; at which time the car thieves emerge from their hiding place and dispossess the owner of his car. In big shopping plazas, the car thieves pretend to be giving motorists directions on how to park and once you yield, they go on and assist in opening the door, after which they pretend to be shutting it but really do not, hence making it easy for them to move the car away once the owner is out of sight.
The police have consistently maintained that they are doing their best to check this crime in the FCT and elsewhere around the country. It is noteworthy that given the challenges that they face, a reasonable number of the stolen cars have been able to be recovered within record time. And we commend them for that just as we insist that it barely scratches the surface of what is, indeed, a festering sore. We urge the police to step up security at the exit points on the nation’s land borders. These will require a great deal of inter-agency collaboration with agencies like the Nigerian Customs Service and the Immigrations Service playing a big role in this fight to rid the nation of urchins who cause sorrows for innocent citizens.
In our opinion, it is imperative for the police to also come up with a method of monitoring spare parts markets in and around the major cities where it has been reported that stolen vehicles are sometimes taken to, cannibalised and sold in parts. However, it must be admitted that the police cannot do it alone hence the need for car owners to be extra vigilant and avoid dark alleys and underpasses where criminals are known to lurk. They must also ensure that their vehicles are left in good places, under watchful eyes. A few of the stolen cars have been recovered because of the security gadgets installed in them which enables the police, assisted by the car-tracking agent, to be able to know the exact point the stolen car is.
In the course of our investigation, however, it was discovered that car stealing has become an industry. In most cases, thieves are actually commissioned to go and steal these cars as buyers are many and waiting. The attraction is that it is cheaper. Also, there are mechanics and other artisans waiting to transform a stolen car within hours to such an extent that the owner will not be able to recognise it if asked to identify it in a lot. The police already know this and are working round the clock to dismantle what is, to all intents, a thriving syndicate. It is a tough job for them and requires the cooperation of everyone to accomplish.