The National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, a unit of the UK Metropolitan Police is increasingly growing jittery over the rising cases of car thefts on it soils. The crude nature of how the car jacks are executed has left the International Police with a heavy task of cracking the theft syndicate. Sunday Monitor’s Othman Semakula writes.
The story of UK stolen luxury cars is an intriguing one. It reads like a script off a Hollywood movie.
It is a tale of a sophisticated ring pitied against a hapless Uganda police holding onto the UK Home Office to investigate suspects.
At the centre of the investigation are four Ugandans suspected to have links with a Kenyan kingpin - Stephen Ruto, 48 - who was last year jailed for running a racket of car jacks inside UK.
Ruto was at the close of last year found guilty by a UK court of organising theft of luxury cars inside UK before they are shipped and sold in East and West Africa with preferred markets in Uganda and Nigeria.
The four, according to the UK Home Office, Interpol and Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), are alleged to have planned or acted as agents in spiriting more than 570 luxury cars out of UK between 2009 and 2015.
Moses Esimu, a Kampala businessman, Jaffar Abdallah, the Kampala Modernity managing director and Frank Gilasi, popularly known as Safari of Auto Links in Naguru, are some of the Ugandans under investigation. However, they all deny the accusations.
However, according to the UK Home Office and Interpol, there are important leads connecting them and a number of Ugandans to car jerks within Europe and Asia.
The forth one, whose details have been left out because Interpol has insufficient information about him, is separately being investigated for allegedly falsifying registration plates and a previously stolen car, which after disappearing, was impounded from his bond in 2011.
Details of the car had been posted on the Interpol-run Stolen Motor Vehicle website, which is a key reference for all cars reported stolen in different parts of the world.
Wayne Cooke, the UK National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service spokesperson, in an email recently confirmed the investigation but declined to give details.
He could neither tell when they expect to complete the investigation, because by its nature, the investigation, he said, was protracted and “does not have timelines”.
In an interview recently, director of Interpol Uganda, Asan Kasingye, told Sunday Monitor they are assisting security agencies in UK to bring to book suspected international criminals committing crimes on their soils.
“The ring (car thieves) is sophisticated but they (suspects) shall not defeat us. We don’t care who they are and what connections they have. We shall bring them to book,” he said.
Just like Cooke, Kasingye did not give timelines but said: “We shall give it all the time it needs to build a strong case. We cannot run to prosecute anyone because if we present a weak case they will defeat us. We shall not give international criminals a chance.”
UK through the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, a unit of the UK Metropolitan Police, is increasingly growing jittery over the rising cases of car thefts on it soils.
The concern have, according to Cooke, been drawn by the crude nature of how the car jacks are executed, which include killing victims and the billions of dollars lost by insurance firms.
Mr Neil Thomas, the director of investigative services at APU Limited, UK told Sunday Monitor in an email recently that they have been victims of car jack rackets and feel compelled to assist police in cracking down perpetrators.
Taken to car bonds
APU, an asset protection and accident investigation agency in UK, sent Mr Thomas to Kampala to repatriate a luxury Lexus car, which after it was reported stolen, was traced to the Kings Auto car bond in Bunga, Kampala.
The car, which had been fitted with a GPS tracking device, was impounded last year and shipped back to UK in February.