Southern Division police have busted what is considered one of the biggest vehicle-theft rings in the nation.
Divisional Commander Snr Supt Richard Smith estimated the stolen auto parts in the latest find to be worth “$2 million to $3 million,” adding larceny of vehicles is a “growing enterprise” and “a big-money business.”
The exercise began on Wednesday between 3 pm and midnight at North Trace in New Grant, about a quarter-mile via a mud track in a bushy area.
On Thursday, the police returned to the area and retrieved more parts, including several scrapped and partially-scrapped vehicles cut in halves and quarters.
Among those recovered were Fielders, Aquas, Axios Tiidas, H100s, and pick-ups with the engine and chassis numbers tampered with. The stolen parts include hundreds of engines, batteries, doors, windscreens, bumpers, and countless auto parts.
On Thursday, while at the Ste Madeleine Police Station, Smith told Newsday that for the past three weeks, the police held a series of exercises in various districts like Barrackpore and Princes Town, specifically dealing with the theft of vehicles.
Some of the items recovered are being housed at this station.
The head of the division added, “They (perpetrators) are using an acetylene torch to cut the vehicles. So, there is no noise when cutting them in halves and quarters.”
“It is quite disheartening to see people’s hard-earned money going in this direction. A vehicle is one of the second most important investments that people would make in their life. To see this is the end result of people’s investment is heartbreaking. I know that many people are suffering from this type of crime.”
No one was arrested at the location.
Smith said the police have had several meetings with Police Commissioner Erla Harewood- Christopher and the executive and together, they came up with a strategy that they are using to combat this surge of crime.
He said, “We have done a lot of analytical work in the background and are seeing its success. The police have also identified some of the perpetrators. We know who they are now, based on our information. It is not right for people to be doing this to other people’s property.”
Smith added, “People are seeing vehicles traversing a dirt track so frequently and not raising an alarm.
“Then we had one brave person who came out and decided enough is enough.”
He commended this person for alerting the police. He urged the public to share information, adding that the more information police can get, the more they could prevent and reduce such crime.
On Monday, the police arrested two men from North Trace in New Grant and confiscated 13 vehicles that are now being housed at the San Fernando Police Station.
Investigations continued, which led to the big find.
The two arrested were a 52-year-old garage owner and a 35-year-old painter/straightener. They remained in custody up to Thursday evening without charge.
Apart from the latest find, the police recovered over 20 vehicles in the past few weeks.
Smith called on the public who believe that their vehicles might be one of the stolen vehicles to visit the Ste Madeleine, Princes Town and San Fernando police stations from Friday to view the items recovered.
He said the CoP, the executive, and all the divisional commanders are committed to using all techniques and strategies to reduce this crime.
Some of the police in the exercise included ASP Jaikaran, Insp Phillip, Sgts Bacchus and Nanan, Cpls Mohammed and Ali, acting Cpl Khan, PC Ramdatt, and many others.
It also included members of the Stolen Vehicle Unit, led by Insp Lazarus.