Sarwar Hossain and Mohammad Jahangir had been running an organised gang that lifted more than 500 vehicles from Dhaka and elsewhere in the last 20 years.
With around 25 members across the country, the gang has the expertise and equipment to engrave new numbers on the engine and chassis of a stolen vehicle to dodge law enforcers and the authorities concerned.
The gang has the capacity to unlock and run any vehicle, prepare fake documents related to import of any vehicle, customs clearance and registration from Bangladesh Road Transport Authorities (BRTA), Sarwar told The Daily Star at the Detective Branch (DB) office on Minto Road yesterday.
He had been arrested on the night of October 1.
From September 30 to October 2, law enforcers arrested 10 members of the gang, including 52-year-old Sarwar and 45-year-old Jahangir, in a series of drives in and around the capital, said DB officials.
The other arrestees are Mostofa Kamal alias Saiful, Abdul Khalek, Bachchu Miah, Ripon Miah, Mohammad Sabu, Nasir Uddin Mollah, Nizam Uddin, and Farid Ahammad.
During the drives, DB personnel recovered three stolen cars, a machine that can erase the engine and chassis numbers, 40 seals of different government officials, including those of BRTA and Customs, government stamps worth Tk 2 lakh, three computers, three printers, a scanner and forged papers of at least 20 stolen vehicles.
After the arrests, some of the gang members demonstrated how fast they can unlock a vehicle at the DB Media and Community Service Centre yesterday.
Sarwar said, “It takes two to three minutes to unlock and start a car with a master key or L key.”
“The gang members have special expertise in different fields and it is quite tough to differentiate the cars stolen by them from the legal ones,” said Mollah Nazrul Islam, deputy commissioner of DB (north).
“Of the gang members, some steal vehicles, some forge documents, some change the engine and chassis numbers while others market the stolen vehicles,” said Sarwar, adding that their gang had contact with carjackers in Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, Khulna, Jessore, Faridpur, Comilla and other different districts.
He said his gang had sold over 200 vehicles in Sylhet only while many more in Chittagong, Khulna and other districts.
According to police records, 2,094 incidents of carjacking took place in the last three years. Of these, only 693 vehicles could be recovered while 1,397 suspects were arrested.
Masudur Rahman, Deputy Commissioner of Media and Community Service, said “A large number of carjackers had been arrested over the time, but most of them got out of jail on bail and returned to old profession. They don't care while harming drivers and motorists, as they know that they will obtain bail.”
He gave instances of one Belal, who had been arrested 36 times for carjacking and one Al-Amin, who had been arrested 32 times for the same crime.
Mohammad Shohidullah, additional deputy commissioner of DB (north), told The Daily Star that around 60 carjacking gangs with more than 600 members were active in and around the capital.
“Detained Sarwar is accused in at least 11 car-lifting cases and was arrested by DB police four months ago. But he came out on bail two months ago and resumed his carjacking business,” said ADC Shohidullah.
Asked, he said the punishment for carjacking is six months' to one year's imprisonment while almost all the carjackers obtain bail.