The long & short of car thefts
ISLAMABAD: It is terrible to lose your brand new car to thieves, but don’t expect any sympathy from the police.
Ziauddin is the latest citizen of the most guarded city in the country Islamabad, to learn that lesson.
“My zero metre Corolla XLI, bearing registration number UC-179, was stolen within half an hour of reaching my home in Street 33 in Sector I8/2,” said Mr Zia, a director in a semi-government commercial company.
Although given by the company, the car would have belonged to him on his retirement. No wonder the shocked and heart-broken Mr Zia rushed to the Industrial Area Police to report the theft.
But greater shock was waiting for him there. It took him three days and of course ‘connections’ to persuade the police to register an FIR about the theft.
That done, he was in for a big surprise.
‘Just an hour after the FIR got registered, I received a phone call from a person who sounded a Pakhtoon from his accent who said the car can be restored to me against some payment,’ Zia said.
How come the man knew his cellphone number? He wondered. Then he recalled the number was mentioned in the FIR. ‘Whether it was just a coincidence, I don’t know. Maybe.’
Since his company owned the car, he said he could not respond to the offer.
However the advice from SP Ishaq Warraich of Industrial Area to him was ‘keep in touch with the caller.’ That may lead the police to the thief, the officer said.
Zia family’s thrill of having a new silver metallic colour car parked on the ramp of their house lasted just 30 minutes.
‘When I came out after the family celebration inside, I found our dream car missing. My enquiries with the guards in the street and vicinity drew blanks. Even the policemen at the checkpost, set up specifically for curbing car thefts in the sector, were no help,’ said the distraught loser.
Zia said he visited the industrial area police station many times only to be told by SHO Rukhsar Mehdi that my complaint was being ‘processed.’
Police claim they have made all arrangements to stop car thieves. Streets 31 and 32, along with many others, of sector I-8/2 have been blocked with the cement blocks. The blockades are annoying to the residents as they have to take long detours to enter their street from the main road but accept the discomfort thinking their vehicles will be safe.
But it has proved only a hope. Just on Friday another vehicle was stolen from Sector I-8/3.
Residents say Zia is the latest, not the only, victim to suffer at the hands of car lifters. They believe gangs of car thieves have been operating in the two sectors with the connivance of police.
They recall the astonishing case of a car loser who got same kind of call. When he failed to get his car even after paying ransom money, he informed Inspector General of Police Bani Amin and sought action.
IGP Amin instructed SP City, Muhammad Ilyas, to investigate and he traced the caller to of all the places Adiala Jail. The caller, now a ‘suspect’ in legal terms, said he needed money to pay his lawyer for securing him bail and contacted a comrade-in-business for help. The comrade had no money but had a stolen car.
He offered his jailed mate to call the car owner and strike a deal.
A deal was made indeed and the owner paid the money, allegedly through the jail superintendent. But the money did not reach the jail bird. As a consequence the owner did not get back his car and he went complaining to the IGP.
SP City Muhammad Ilyas confirmed that a phone call was made from Adiala Jail to get money. He said the money the car owner had delivered was recovered and returned to him.
And a new case was registered against the suspect who was in jail. The rest of the story is buried in ‘case files’ SHO Industrial Area Police Station, Rukhsar Mehdi claimed to Dawn that police have been trying to provide fool proof security ‘but vehicles still get stolen occasionally.’
Zia’s car ‘will be recovered soon,’ he said.