Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Toyota Wish is currently the most targeted vehicle by thieves, Police’s latest findings on car thefts in Uganda.
Covert police operations targeting self-drive car thieves in the Kampala Metropolitan area have indicated that the suspects so far in police custody are connected to various thefts of Toyota Wish vehicles.
Police Spokesperson, Fred Enanga, has identified the ringleaders of thefts as Farouq Nsereko alias Hassan and sometimes known as Jamil and Joseph Wambi also known as Daniel Kato. The duo has pending car theft cases at Nateete, Kawempe, Kajjansi, Katwe and Bweyogerere.
In one of the cases, the two stole motor vehicle registration number UBE 132J from Ronald Asiimwe and sold it at 2.5 million Shillings to Fabulous Motors and Washing Bay. The other is registration number UBE 723A which was hired from Bakiribona Elvis and sold to Mutaaya Stephen, UAW 461B stolen from Hilary Serumaga and sold to Adam Magezi at 12 million Shillings and UBF 066W, stolen from Jamada Kasujja and sold at seven million Shillings.
Other cars the group is accused of stealing include UBD 547 A which was hired from Artison Semyano and sold to Alex Keyeyera and a Spacio UBJ 754G which was stolen from Alex Kasirye and sold to Stephen Musisi at 14 million Shillings. The two have told detectives that they often disguise as persons hiring cars for self-drive and sell them to people who do not undertake due diligence to verify ownership documents.
The Police Flying Squad and Crime intelligence embarked on tracking self-drive car thieves after numerous complaints had been reported in Nateete, Kajjansi, Kawempe and Bweyogerere. Enanga said the duo and their accomplices have been hiring vehicles from owners at 150,000 Shillings for self-drive but end up selling them at costs ranging between 2.5 million to 14 million Shillings.
Previously, Toyota Premio, Corona and G-Touring were some of the most targeted cars. The combination shifted to Premio, Spacio and Raum before moving to the Toyota Wish.
700 cars stolen in Kampala every year
A 2020 analysis of police reports on motor vehicle thefts and robberies in the country shows that on average 700 cars are stolen or robbed in Kampala every year. This translates to two vehicles being stolen or robbed every day in Kampala.
Statistics compiled by Criminal Investigations Directorate – CID led by Assistant Inspector General of Police –AIGP Grace Akullo, for 2019, 2018 and 2017 show a total of 2,413 vehicles were stolen in Kampala metropolitan that covers the city, Wakiso and Mukono district. The year of 2017 registered the highest number of motor vehicle thefts and robberies with 848 cases.
However, with the introduction of Closed Circuit Television – CCTV cameras, records indicate that there is a slight decline in motor vehicle thefts and robberies.
In 2018 when CCTVs were introduced, cases dropped to 784 compared to 848 cases of 2017, while they reduced to 781 in 2019. A senior officer operating the Kampala metropolitan CCTV monitoring room said the cases are likely to drop tremendously by end of 2020 because spy cameras have been installed in all residential and slum areas where car thieves took advantage of corridors and access routes.
“I am sure this year’s report will have not more than 400 cases of vehicle thefts because cameras have been installed in all dark spots. We know Katwe, Ndeeba, Natete, Salaama road, Kabalagala and Kansanga were dark spots of vehicle thefts especially in the evening and night hours,” a senior police officer said.
The officer said thieves often target vehicles whose owners are in bars particularly in places like Kansanga and Kabalagala. However, cameras have been installed, security cameras on private buildings have been connected to divisional control centres.
Kampala south region leads in car thefts with an average of 250 cases every year followed by Kampala North region with minimum of 230 cases per year, while Kampala East comes with average of 190 cases each year.
Assistant Superintendent of Police –ASP Joseph Khisa, who is the commandant of traffic monitoring unit at National CCTV command centre at Naguru police headquarters told MPs that motor vehicle thefts in Kampala will soon drastically drop.
“When we get information that a vehicle has been stolen in a certain place, we pull back all the CCTV cameras in that place. We begin tracking the vehicle’s movements. In case we don’t see it immediately, we put its details in the system and we receive signals where it moves,” said ASP Khisa.
Outside Kampala, cases of motor vehicle thefts are high in greater Masaka region with average of 60 cases per year, followed by Rwizi with 45 cases per year, Wamala and Busoga have a minimum of 25 cases per year.