Monday, 3 November 2003  
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Special operation to crack down on vehicle thefts

Alarmed over the recent spate of vehicle robberies, the Ministry of Interior and Christian Affairs, John Amaratunga has requested the police top brass to launch a special operation to crack down on such offenders.

Following the Minister's order Secretary, Ministry of Interior and Christian Affairs, M. N. Junaid summoned acting IGP, Indra de Silva and all senior DIGs and officers of CID and Colombo Crimes Bureau to ascertain the extent of vehicle robberies and what measures are required to arrest the situation.

Junaid said that the respective police divisions should launch an operation to exercise vigilant and monitor movement by luxury vehicles out of Colombo at exit points of major roads and carry out surprise checks. He has also requested that police officers dressed in mufti with arms be deployed to patrol certain streets of Colombo to crackdown on crime.

He also wanted a close tab kept on all exit points to the Vanni as it was the view of the police the most of the robbed vehicles are spirited away across Vanni and after changing chassis numbers and colour of vehicles are sold for amounts ranging from Rs. one million to two millions.

These assurances follow a big public outcry over the abduction and killing of a gem merchant who was driving in his Pajero along Galle Road at Wellawatta last week. The body of the gem merchant was found dumped at the Bolgoda Lake.

On inquiry from Secretary Junaid as to the extent of vehicle robberies the police top brass provided the following numbers of vehicles stolen and the numbers found from January 2003 to October 2003. Nos. robbed Nos. found Cars 25 09 Vans 140 52 Buses 03 02 Lorries 40 20 Jeeps 09 09 Tractors 07 06 Three wheelers 211 76 Motor cycles 501 119

It was also revealed that 65 per cent of these vehicle robberies were reported from Mt. Lavinia, Nugegoda, Chilaw, Kandy and Kelaniya.

Senior DIG Chandra Fernando said that they have increased their vigilance in these areas. He said they have already apprehended a large number of people who are carrying out these robberies and there are many gangs who are identified but still at large.

It was also revealed that these gangs have learnt the art of changing the chassis, parts and appearance of the vehicles stolen quickly. Police also alleged that the registration documents of the vehicles are sometimes altered with the connivance of personnel in the Department of Registration of Motor Vehicles.

Junaid told the Senior DIG that a special effort be made to crackdown on the offenders. He suggested that a telephone number be given for the public to inform of any incident.

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