Abuja: Rising incidence of car theft in the nation’s capital
Did you wake up one morning to discover that your car had disappeared from the garage where you had parked it the previous night before going to bed? You were not alone. The problem is what to do about the city’s rising cases of car theft.
Residents of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, are becoming increasingly worried about the alarming rate of car theft in their neighbourhoods. This is perhaps, putting it mildly. They say hardly does a day pass without a case of missing car being reported to the police.
Cars, especially Honda cars, are cleverly removed from where they are parked while their unsuspecting owners are busy at work, in a meeting or doing any other transactions. Some other times, the cars are snatched at gunpoint on the highway. Many victims say the most disturbing situation is that the stolen cars are hardly recovered, while there is often no trace of their whereabouts.
Some of the victims are particularly irked by the inability of the police and other security agencies to stem the rising menace of car theft in the FCT.
Mr Paul Ikeodo, a lawyer whose Honda CRV Jeep was stolen outside a guest house in Kubwa where he was attending a meeting, says that the police ought to wake up to their responsibility.
He bemoans a situation, in which cars get missing every day, while the police have yet to ascertain those behind the theft.
“I believe there is a car snatching syndicate in FCT and that makes their operation smooth and seamless.
“From all indications, these guys have ready buyers; they bring the cars and get paid immediately; that’s why the cars are hardly recovered.
“‘It is left for the police to nose around and bust this syndicate,’’ Ikeodo adds.
Sharing similar sentiments, Mr Anselem Nze, a civil servant, believes that there is a secret location in Kubwa where stolen vehicles are packed and temporarily kept before their disposal.
Nze, whose car was once stolen, says that car thieves often mill around, keeping a close watch on cars and their unsuspecting owners.
“Once they discover you are not within your car, your car is gone.
“When my Honda CRV was stolen, I drove around Kubwa immediately but there was no sign of it.
“I have these feeling that stolen cars are refurbished right inside Kubwa and then sold.
“Anyway, I am only speculating; it is left for the police to conduct their investigations, as I have lodged my complaint with them,’’ he says.
Mr Muyudeen Ayuba, a civil servant, whose car was removed from where it was parked at Kado Estate, recollects that the whole incident was like a dream to him.
He recalls that he visited a house at the estate where he did not stay long, only to come out and discover that his car was no longer where it was parked.
“That was the way my car got missing; I reported the theft to the police but I am yet to hear anything since then,’’ Ayuba says.
In the case of Mrs Paulina Abhiwase, another civil servant, her Honda Academy car was removed from where it was parked at Area 3, Garki.
She claims that she has reported the matter to the police, adding that the officers then assured her that they would make efforts to recover the car.
“The last time I called, they told me they had recovered some cars but mine was not among the recovered cars.
“All the same, I still believe in God that the car will be recovered,’’ Abhiwase says.
Nevertheless, the FCT Police Command says that it is doing everything within its capacity to curb the growing menace of car theft in the territory, even as it advises car owners to equip their cars with security devices to safeguard them from theft.
Mrs Doris England, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the FCT, however, says that the police have intensified its fight against car theft.
She, nonetheless, notes that most victims of car theft had no form of security in their cars.
“I want to advise car owners in the FCT to install one form of security or the other in their cars.
“Most times, when victims of car theft are asked if they had security gadgets in their cars, the answers are always in the negative. They don’t even have the locally made pedal or steering lock.
“I appeal to the residents of the FCT, especially those in the satellite towns, to fix security devices in their cars. The devices can be pedal lock, steering lock or even the more sophisticated car trackers,’’ she says.
England explains that a car tracker makes it easy for people to trace a car’s movement; thereby making recovery of stolen cars easy for the victims and the police.
She, however, rejects the notion that the rate of car theft in FCT is becoming alarming, saying that it is only the police that are in a position to make such declaration.
She insists that all the divisions of police command have patrol cars that are used in patrolling all areas to check criminal activities, including car theft.
“There is a robust patrol in the FCT. Apart from that, the FCT command has a section under the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID), whose duty is to check the activities of car thieves; the section is known as the Anti Car Theft Section,’’ she adds.
England says that whenever a car theft is reported, a signal is promptly sent round, while all patrol vehicles in the FCT are connected to the central communication hub.
She stresses that once the information about the particulars of a stolen vehicle is passed out, all patrols teams in the FCT would be on the lookout for such cars.
The PPRO says that more than five stolen vehicles in the FCT have been recovered in the past two weeks.
Apart from car thefts, there have been some instances in the FCT, where cars snatched from their owners at gunpoint.
Some of the victims say that even the installation of security devices in cars could not save the cars from the grasp of the armed robbers, as the owners are often forced to disconnect the cars’ security apparatus before the cars are taken away.
Miss Catherine Obande, a journalist, recalls that her father’s was snatched by an armed man at Wuse Zone 6.
“My father said that about three young men were milling around the area, pretending to be making phone calls.
“As he was opening the car, one of them approached him and pointed a gun at him and pushed him into the car.
“Then, the others also boarded the car; they held him in there and asked him to start the car, as they discovered it had a security device.
“After driving with him for about thirty minutes to make sure the car didn’t stop, they dropped him off at a spot,’’ she recounts.
Perspective analysts are of the view that more needs be done in the fight against carjacking and car theft.
They urge the police to step up their intelligence gathering capacity so as to apprehend the masterminds of carjacking and car theft in the FCT and bust their syndicate.