The recovered cars include a Toyota Corona, Premio, Super Custom and commuter 14-seater taxis
Police has recovered more cars in an on-going crack down on car thefts in Kampala and neighbouring districts.
So far, the Police’s Flying Squad Unit (FSU) has recovered three more after the recently seized 12. A total of 15 cars are parked at two different police stations.
The FSU commandant Herbert Muhangi said 11 vehicles are parked at the Central Police Station (CPS) in Kampala and four at Kawempe Police station. Police has appealed to victims of stolen cars to verify with security operatives at CPS.
According to police, only four cars had number plates by the time they were recovered. They include; UAN 641Y, UAF 700H, UAK 447K, UAJ 072S, the other cars recovered were numberless.
Muhangi attributed the recent spate of car thefts to ex-convicts, who were imprisoned in 2013, but recently ended their jail terms of between 18 months and two years.
“Those that had been remanded for long served short sentences after conviction, prompting their release late last month. They are back, but we have managed to arrest them with exhibits (stolen cars),” Muhangi told New Vision.
Muhangi said they had conducted operations in Kampala, Wakiso and Masaka. We have picked up seven suspects and recovered 12 vehicles,” he said.
They include; Benon Nkonge, Alex Kinawa, Joseph Kabiito, Matia Ssempala, Gideon Tumusiime, William Sseggabi, Simon Mukiibi, Mutwalib Kibirige and another only identified as Ssegawa.
The recovered cars include a Toyota Corona, Premio, Super Custom and commuter 14-seater taxis.
The brands are easy targets because they are relatively fast, cheap to maintain, can work like horses carrying cargo or people and have a ready market.
Muhangi made the revelations after Police arrested Joseph Sserwadda, who is suspected to be a leader of one of Kampala gangs linked to the theft of 49 vehicles that were recovered in Arua en route to the Democratic Republic of Congo early this year.
Sserwadda was arrested on Saturday from one of his homes in Natete, a Kampala suburb. “Robbers change car plates and chassis numbers.
“This was revealed after we contacted Uganda Revenue Authority in an effort to identify the owners,” Muhangi said.
It has also emerged that some car thieves operate in centers where they hide the cars for up to six months, before driving or ferrying them out of the country.
Muhangi said some of the holding centres are Masaka and Wakiso, as well as the city suburbs of Kawempe, Kyengera and Bwaise, where Police have closed two garages.
“Another centre is in Semuto in Nakaseke district, where stolen cars from Kampala are dismantled, spare parts loaded on to trucks and driven back to Kampala, where they are sold,” Muhangi said.
He added that most of the holding centres also run warehouses. Investigations into the growing car theft largely point to security lapses, but also highlight the sophisticated techniques employed by the criminals, according to a security source.
The source revealed that in areas where criminals suspect the Police to be vigilant, they dismantle the car and load its parts onto trucks disguised as charcoal or other merchandise and are quick to ‘tip’ Traffic Police along the way.
“They are willing to sacrifice the less valuable parts of the car, such as tyres. The engine is removed and the chassis carefully separated.
It takes between two days and six months for a stolen car from Uganda to find its way into a neighbouring country, but this depends on the route through which it is taken.
A Police report on stolen cars released early this year revealed that 49 cars stolen from across the country in five months (August 2015 to January 2016) were channeled into DR Congo through Arua.
The other routes include the road connecting Mbarara and Mutukula on the Uganda-Tanzania border.
In eastern Uganda, cars stolen from Mbale are driven through Manafwa and then to Lwakakha en route to Kenya.
For stolen cars from Kampala and its environs, Kampala-Hoima Road was singled out as the commonest route to other parts of the country. In 2014, a total of 38 cases of aggravated robbery of motor vehicles were registered compared to 47 cases registered in 2013.