TTPS: Car theft on the rise
The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) has announced an “alarming” increase in the theft of motor vehicles for 2017 as compared to the same period last year.
According to the TTPS, vehicular larceny has increased by 26% with 686 recorded reports compared to 544 reports in 2016.
With regards to Motor Vehicle Robbery (while in the presence of the owner), 2017 saw a 26% increase, with 224 reports, as compared to the 161 reported cases for the same period last year.
Of the stolen vehicles:
398 are Nissan (58%)
B14, B13, B12, AD Wagons, Almera and Tiida 72, 87, 32, 36, 24 and 53 respectively
Hyundai H100 and the Kia K2700 pickup trucks together totalled 42
Mitsubishi Lancer, 38
Toyota Corolla vehicles, 26 reported cases.
The TTPS said although the Tiida is still a vehicle of choice for motor vehicle thieves, there was a reduction from 73 in 2016 to 53 in 2017.
There has, however, been an increase in theft of the Nissan B13 – 66 in 2016 compared to 87 in 2017 an increase of 32%, B14 – 50 in 2016 compared to 72 in 2017 an increase of 44%, Nissan AD Wagon – 28 in 2016 compared to 36 in 2017, an increase of 28% and Nissan B12- 20 in 2016 compared to 32 in 2017, an increase of 60%.
The increases have been attributed to the demand for parts and the ease with which the vehicles are stolen. The parts these vehicles carry have become obsolete and are not readily accessible. Nissan vehicles made up 54% of all vehicles taken by robbery.
Notable vehicles which saw an increase include Toyota Hilux which increased from 10 stolen in 2016 to 15 in 2017, the Nissan Almera which increased from 14 stolen in 2016 to 20 in 2017, the Nissan B15 which increased from 5 in 2016 to 12 in 2017 and the Nissan Tiida, which increased from 18 stolen in 2016 to 23 in 2017.
The statement noted that in May 2017, the Stolen Vehicles Squad based in Port of Spain initiated several preventative measures regarding the theft of vehicles which has led to a significant reduction in larceny and robbery of vehicles in the Port of Spain Division.
For the period January 1, 2017, to May 31, 2017, 45 vehicles were stolen in Port of Spain and from June 1st to October 31, 2017 - 31 vehicles were stolen. This showed a reduction of 31% when compared to the said period in 2016.
In light of the increase in the number of vehicles stolen, the TTPS sought to remind motorist of precautionary measures which should be adopted.
1 Citizens should always be aware of their surroundings and always ensure that their vehicle is properly secured. Parking in isolated areas on the street or in parking lots should be avoided. Vehicles should also be parked in well-lit areas or if possible in areas where there are CCTV cameras.
2 Owners of vehicles which utilize coded electronic keys should be mindful that these types of vehicles are targeted to be stolen via robbery, as it is very difficult to steal these vehicles by way of larceny. This is so as these keys can only be duplicated by the manufacturer. The vehicles which carry these keys are as follows: The New model Mazda 3, The Mazda BT50, Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara, Toyota Prado, the new model Nissan X- Trail, the Hyundai Tucson and the Hyundai Elantra.There have been numerous reports from owners of these vehicles that attempts were made to steal these vehicles when left parked, but thieves were unsuccessful as they did not possess the manufacturer’s key as the key cannot be duplicated. As such, these vehicles are instead taken by way of a robbery, usually at gunpoint. It should also be noted that these vehicles when stolen have resurfaced, as re-registered vehicles bearing a different chassis number and a different engine number.
3 It is further recommended that vehicle owners place unique identification marks in hidden locations within their vehicle. (These unique marks can be in the form of their initials, date of birth, special marks etc.) Owners should ensure that only they have knowledge of these marks. When stolen vehicles are recovered, the chassis and engine numbers are usually tampered with. By leaving unique identification marks, officers can use this to match stolen vehicles to their rightful owners when vehicles are recovered.
4 Citizens are also encouraged to invest in anti-theft devices where possible. Although it may be at a cost, these devices serve as very effective deterrents. Anti-theft devices include GPS systems, Club Locks (a small device that is fitted to the brake pedal), Gas Locks, Transmission Locks, Alarm Systems, Kill switches, and Stealth Configuration. It is also recommended that these devices should be installed by reputable companies. As citizens, it is your right to request any information from these businesses. If the company fails or hesitates to provide information, this behaviour is a cause for concern and raises a red flag.
5 With respect to the robbery of Motor vehicles, the TTPS would like to highlight the main methods used by criminals to commit these robberies.
- Confronting the victim in their driveway/front gate and stealing their vehicle (usually at gun point).
- Posing as passengers and relieving the driver of the vehicle which was for hire.
- Forcefully stopping victims while driving on the roadways and taking away their vehicles.
- Entering the victim’s residence while the victims are at home and relieving the victims of their vehicles.
In light of these methods, citizens are advised to be extra cautious when exiting vehicles in their driveway or by their front gate. Robberies which occurred at the victim’s driveway/front gate were predominantly committed at night, in particular during the time frame of 8 pm to midnight. Persons who also ply their vehicle for hire should exercise the necessary caution when picking up passengers. Taxi drivers throughout the country have been targeted, in particular, those who ply their vehicle along the Eastern Main Road, from San Juan to Port-of-Spain.
The TTPS further made recommendations pertaining to the upcoming Christmas season. Citizens are encouraged to be vigilant when conducting their errands and partaking in the various activities that comes with the season.
Citizens are reminded to:
1 Do not leave toddlers, children or even elderly persons in vehicles unattended for lengthy periods of time.
2 Do not leave your vehicles unattended while it is switched on at any point as this would render the vehicle vulnerable to an easy theft. It has been noticed that citizens leave their vehicle switched on and hastily enter institutions to conduct business. This habit has also been noticed at gas stations and various ATMs, as citizens leave their vehicles with the engine running to conduct transactions.
3 Citizens should also not leave valuable items in their vehicles such as large amounts of cash, jewellery, laptops and cell phones. Citizens should also be mindful while shopping, to not leave purchased items in their vehicles for long periods. These items can be potentially targeted by criminals.
4 Furthermore, persons leaving banks and other financial institutions with large amounts of cash should remain attentive and be aware of their surroundings particularly when returning to their vehicles. Citizens should also stay alert to the possibility of being followed when leaving these institutions.
5 The TTPS would also like to encourage citizens to report any suspicious vehicles they may see parked in their neighbourhood or community. These vehicles may be involved in criminal activities and can be used to commit a number of different offences. Citizens can contact 999, 555, 800-TIPS or inform the nearest police station if this situation exists. Motor vehicle owners are also cautioned that when a vehicle is bought, the vehicle should be transferred to your name within the prescribed time (7 days) and ensure that it is purchased from a reputable company or a person known to you.