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KARACHI: Snatching or theft of government vehicles is on the rise in the metropolis as 26 such incidents have been reported during the last one year.

According to the documents obtained by Dawn, most of the criminal occurrences took place in South district, particularly in the Clifton and Defence areas.

Anti-Car Lifting Cell (ACLC) SSP Asad Raza has recently drawn attention of the authorities concerned towards the disturbing trend through a letter.

He pointed out that private car snatching decreased in the city because of strict law enforcement; actions against gangs involved in the practice; use of tracking devices in vehicles and sandblasting registration, engine and chassis numbers of vehicles on their windscreens.

“As a result of enhanced cooperation between tracker companies and ACLC staff, scores of vehicles have been recovered.

“The vehicles with the trackers installed can be recovered in minutes if the device is not removed or jammed while the vehicles which have their particulars sandblasted on their screens are less prone to theft or snatch and cannot be sold in the market easily.

‘Tracking device, sandblasting particulars on windscreens may reduce incidents’

“Keeping in view this limitation, the criminals started targeting government vehicles which do not have trackers and the numbers on their windscreens. Even if some cars have trackers, they are not in order.

“During the past six months, many government vehicles have been targeted not only in South district but in East district as well,” the documents said.

The ACLC police officer proposed to CIA DIG Dr Amin Yousufzai that the quarters concerned be approached for making installation of trackers and sandblasting of numbers compulsory.

It was pointed out that the sandblasting facility was available at the ACLC’s Sharifabad office.

Improving picketing on entry and exit points of South district, increasing patrolling in commercial areas of DHA and Clifton and regularisation of motorcycle patrolling, especially on desolated streets, were also suggested.

Some other proposals included thorough inspection of new cars loaded with three or four persons, immediate securing of the crime scene in case of vehicle snatching and sharing available description of snatchers with picketing, patrolling and vigilance teams of the police.

The policeman also pointed out that the snatchers of government vehicles usually wore clean clothes and their behaviour was often blunt.

“The snatchers normally travel in Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Suzuki Swift or Mehran cars which models vary from 2009 to 2017 and their favourite targets are new Toyota Corollas.

“With the help of witnesses, the ACLC prepared a sketch of one of the suspects which was shared with the South police,” he said.

When contacted by Dawn, the SSP said he feared that the snatched vehicles were being used in terrorist and criminal activities.

He added that the ACLC dealt with vehicular crimes while preventive measures were the responsibility of district police.

The policeman further said Additional IG Mushtaq Mahar announced a reward of Rs500,000 for a person who provided information about the gang behind snatching of government vehicles in Clifton.

When asked about the 26 snatched vehicles, he said two of them had been recovered. “One of them was found in Khuzdar, Balochistan. It was snatched from a senior public servant in the Sachal area on April 2,” he added.

“The driver of the car, Anwar, was behind the conspiracy. He facilitated the commissioning of the offence through his associates Atta Mohammed and Saud, who after snatching the vehicle took it to Balochistan. Anwar is now behind bars and further investigation is going on,” SSP Raza concluded.

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2018