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Cops see car-theft check in device

Guwahati, July 29: J.P. Kakati, a doctor at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, was confident about the safety of his second-hand white Mahindra Bolero when he bought it nine months ago. It was, after all, equipped with gear lock and security alarm system. But he was proved wrong on Friday when vehicle thieves managed to break into his car’s safety system and stole it from his house at Anil Nagar here.

“It was around 1am when I heard a sound outside. I saw about four people pushing out my car and as I came out they started its engine and sped away. I don’t understand how they managed to break the gear lock,” Kakati told The Telegraph today. He has lodged an FIR with Chandmari police station here.

The police say the thieves could not have stolen the car if it had an engine immobiliser.

“Engine immobilisers are very helpful in preventing vehicle theft, so we have requested car companies to sell cars having this safety system. As in most parts of the country, inter-state gangs of vehicle-lifters are targeting cars without such devices here too. But we don’t understand why many cars are still being sold without engine immobiliser,” said senior superintendent of police (city) Anand Prakash Tiwari. The police and automobile dealers here said investigations into vehicle theft cases had revealed that criminal gangs can disable security systems such as engine lock, steering lock and safety alarm in minutes. The gangs then take the vehicles to neighbouring states of Manipur and Nagaland where there is a huge demand for Boleros because of the hilly terrain. The criminals change the number plates of stolen cars and tamper with its engine and chassis number before taking them away with fake documents.

Of the 4,552 cases of car theft registered with the police here between 2010 and May 2014, most (the police declined to specify the number) were Boleros. The police have managed to recover only 468 cars stolen during this period. This year, till May, 98 cars were stolen of which only 13 have been recovered. The police are looking for 28 car-lifters, said to be experts in bypassing car security systems and linked to car-theft gangs and middlemen in Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.

“It is difficult to carry out operations in the hilly and inaccessible areas of Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. Car theft will automatically come down if car makers stop selling models without engine immobiliser,” a police officer probing such cases said.

Subhankar Chakraborty, sales manger of the Mahindra showroom, Industrial and Farm Equipment, on GS Road here, said they have been selling models equipped with engine immobilisers since October 2010. He suspects that criminals target cars manufactured before this period. “The immobiliser is fitted during manufacturing and it is not possible to fit the system into our old models,” he said.

Chakraborty said people could use devices like engine lock or gear lock. “Although these devices are not foolproof, they provide ample protection,” he said. A car-tracking system fitted with a GPS device can keep watch on cars, the dealer, who sells at least 60 to 65 cars every month, added.