It seems astonishing that a Nissan B14 car could remain in use on the road for 15 years after it was reported stolen. The revelation reads like a stunning indictment of the process and procedure by which vehicles are inspected and identified for inspection in TT. The car was found during a roadblock on the Eastern Main Road last week after three men ran from the vehicle. Only one of them was held.
The TT Police Service has reported decreasing incidents of vehicle theft over the last three years, with a drop of 22 per cent between 2017 and 2018. This accounting of the crime between January and June also noted a sharp increase, by 70 per cent, in the number of vehicles taken by robbery instead of theft. That general downward trend continued over the same period this year, with a further 27 per cent decrease in vehicles stolen, dropping to 300 for the first half of 2019.
Most of these robberies happen on the street and are the result of the increasing prevalence of coded electronic keys which make roadside break-ins more difficult. These vehicles are found re-registered with forged chassis and engine numbers.
The East-West Corridor remains the hotspot for car theft as well as recovery, but many stolen vehicles are either deployed for crime then abandoned or are chopped up for parts. Police car theft specialists advise the owners of vehicles, particularly those preferred by criminals, to place secret markings on their vehicles and on major car parts. As with most crimes committed in TT, the police have a good idea who the perpetrators are but seem unable to align suspects with stolen goods to effect arrests.
The story of the Nissan B-14 recovered by accident last week is unusually interesting. While bandits have moved on to favour the Hyundai Tucson, Nissan X-Trail and Kia Sportage, according to Sgt Christopher Swamber of the Stolen Vehicles Unit, that B-14 remained in service to crime for a decade and a half. The question must be asked. How is that possible? It was quickly identified as stolen, which suggests that the chassis and engine numbers remain intact.
If so, that car is also evidence of a legacy of carelessness and lack of rigour or worse, criminal dishonesty in the vehicle inspection process.
To the extent that it possible to do so, the history of this car since it was stolen should be tracked to identify all the points at which it came under official and semi-official scrutiny since it was stolen.