It seems like the alarming wave of vehicle theft that hit Nairobi five years ago is back. Unlike in 2008, where the thieves would target car hire firms and pose as clients in need of a car for hire before making away with the vehicle once they’ve submitted fake documents to secure it, this time, the crooks are posing as buyers with the aim of swindling gullible sellers.
VEHICLE THEFT IN KENYA: CRIMINALS POSE AS PROFESSIONALS
In an article by Carlos Mureithi published in the Saturday Nation (February 16), the criminals were reported to masquerade as top professionals such as doctors and pilots, and do not spend much time in negotiating the asking price. They also operate with perfectly forged documents which can fool even the most hawk-eyed police officers.
TOYOTA FIELDER AT ESPECIALLY LARGE RISK OF THEFT
Martin Karanja who runs a car hire business acknowledged that there is a wave of car theft especially targeting the Toyota Fielder.
“The only way I protect my cars is by ensuring that they are fitted with car trackers, this way I am always in the know of where any of my cars is at any particular time. I also abstain from hiring my cars to strangers who do not have referrals from any of my existing clients”, he said.
TAKEN ACROSS THE BORDER
Early last year the police warned of a rise in motor vehicle thefts and hijacking of heavy commercial vehicles carrying valuable goods.
If they are not being resold to unsuspecting buyers in most cases they are driven across the border, mostly to Tanzania, where they are given new registration numbers and then sold. The stolen vehicles in Nairobi are dismantled and the parts sold to car body part dealers. Others are said to use the stolen cars as security for loans from either from banks or ‘shylocks.’
The KRA has been blamed for fueling this crime since it’s very easy for anyone to get details of any vehicles provided that one submits the car registration number and parts with Sh500. Cases of two people sharing a similar genuine logbook but under different names are not unusual.
A good number of Kenyans have over the last five years lost their cars through these scams.