Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
    Volume 9 Issue 16| April 16, 2010|

  Cover Story
  Photo Feature
  One Off
  Food for Thought
  Current Affairs
  Star Diary
  Post Script

   SWM Home


Carjacked !

Ershad Kamol

Carelessness of the drivers is sometimes responsible for car theft.

It was midnight and the car was on Manik Miah Avenue. Sabri Obaidul Akbar (not his real name), was driving alone, listening to music, when a microbus rammed into his luxurious brand new car from the back. Immediately, he got down from the car to talk to the driver of the microbus. Instead, he was chased by three youths carrying small arms and knives. One of the youths took away Akbar's car keys and left the place immediately, driving away in the car. Akbar was brutally beaten by the other two hijackers, who rushed away in the microbus. Gathering all of his energy, Akbar chased the microbus for a while, but failed to catch up with it. In the silent midnight, nobody was there to listen to his screaming except a few owls on the trees under the neon lights.

The story mentioned above is not the only way of trapping drivers, the Detective Branch (DB) of the police informs that there are several other ways, such as throwing bricks or blocking the way with a microbus. Car hijackers trap the lonely drivers to stop cars in deserted roads at midnight.

Apart from this trapping technique, the car thieves sometimes use medicine with soft drinks to make the drivers senseless when hijacking cars and CNG three-wheelers. The Some say that drivers eager to make a quick buck are involved in the robbery.

"We have noticed that at midnight a few drivers of luxurious private cars take passengers near Mohakhali intersection to make extra money. Sometimes, they become the victims of the hijackers," says a high official of DB.

According to him, sometimes car thieves cheat the greedy drivers. "They approach the drivers to teach them driving, though these cheats themselves are expert drivers. At a convenient time, they steal the cars and in most cases the drivers don't know the identity of the thieves. They just know the mobile numbers and these thieves switch off their phones after the theft.

"Sometimes, drivers sell cars and CNG three-wheelers to organised groups or help thieves to steal cars. Without any help of the drivers, luxury cars can never be stolen, since they require duplicate keys to drive them. Such drivers with evil intentions get appointed on the basis of false documents."

Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Mohammed Mokhlesur Rahman Parking cars is always risky in some busy places in the city.

Old model cars are at greater risk, since such cars can be stolen using common keys made by roadside key makers. Thieves using such keys steal cars from the parking places. According to the DB, the rate of cars theft from open parking places is higher in Gulshan, Banani, Uttara and Dhanmondi areas.

Carelessness of drivers is also a contributing factor to car theft, when some drivers go to the washroom in CNG filling stations, leaving their keys in the cars. "Thieves hover around such places in search of such unattended vehicles," says the DB official.

According to the Vehicle Theft Prevention and Recovery Cell of the DB, there are around 50 organised groups behind vehicle hijacking and stealing in the city. The team leader of the cell informs that all of these groups are identified and are monitored by the law enforcers.

Selling parts of cars is also a lucrative trade for these gangs. Many gang leaders have made huge amounts of money robbing parts of luxurious cars and reselling their parts to the owners. Usually, these gangs contact the owners who get word on the missing parts at Dholaikhal. Billal Hossain is considered to be a ringleader of the trade. Billal in his confessional statement to the police said that he made Taka 10 crore by hijacking parts from the garages and reselling them to the owners. So far, he had been arrested 35 times. Billal said that he planned to leave the profession after making Taka 200 crore.

"I was amazed seeing how organised such car parts muggers are!" says eminent actor Pijush Bandyopadhyay, who lost all the valuable parts of his brand new luxury car just two days after buying it. "The DB police took me to the spot at Dholaikhal where parts of many cars including mine were stored separately in big bags. I found the muggers' tags of information with the name of the car, the place from which they were hijacked and the date the parts should be resold to the owners."

DB police claim that hijacking of parts of cars, which had become a common phenomenon in the recent past is totally under control after the arrest of kingpins of such gangs such as those led by Billal Hossain, Zakir Badal, Siddique and Bacchu.

Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Mohammed Mokhlesur Rahman, team leader of Vehicle Theft Prevention and Recovery Cell further claims that the police have controlled car-jacking and stealing in the city. "We have achieved tremendous success in the last couple of years in terms of recovering missing cars. As a result, the number of hijackings and car thefts have decreased remarkably. We arrested all of the kingpins of these gangs. But the problem is that they came out on bail, since it's easier to get bail in theft cases," he says.

"The current rate of vehicle hijacking and theft is only 30 per month of which 60 percent are motorcycles. The number was 60 per month two years back. These days our recovery rate is 70 per cent, which is a tremendous success."

Rahman believes that awareness on the part of the public and improving the existing system on the government level can take the rate down to almost zero. He observes, "People must take cautious measures when appointing a new driver. Moreover, they must check the documents of the vehicles through Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) in case of buying second hand cars to be safe from purchasing stolen or hijacked cars. If people don't buy such cars, there will not be any market for them."

"The DB should be equipped with voice tracking devices. BRTA must be totally digitalised and the police must have access to their database to be able to quickly check the papers of any suspected vehicles. Moreover, BRTA should take steps so that the hijackers cannot change the registration numbers of the stolen vehicles. The Police Stations too must crosscheck papers with engine and chassis numbers of the suspected vehicles at the check posts carefully in order to detect stolen and hijacked cars."

The DB officer also advises owners of CNG three-wheelers and taxicabs not to bargain with the brokers who contact the owners of the missing vehicles. Rather, he suggests they should contact the police. "Some miscreants have successfully spread such rumours that if the owners of lost vehicles contact the police instead of coming to an agreement with the brokers, they may lose another CNG three-wheeler and cab. In fact, such rumours have no basis. We have arrested most of the chiefs of such gangs such as Hafiz Mollah, Babul Mollah, Abbas and Kabir," says Rahman.

However, the Senior Assistant Police Commissioner of the DB admits that with the existing personnel and logistics, it is difficult for them to control motorcycle hijacking and stealing. According to him, the hijackers usually target the motorbikes, which have resale value and sell them through different hands. He advises owners of motorbikes to use chain locks when parking in risky zones.



Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2010