“Gone are the days when one or two criminals would go to steal a car; what we are now seeing is that members of these criminal networks, to avoid detection, are working in larger groups and each person in the group is given a designated duty,” said a police officer, who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
“We have learnt that in these groups you will have two or three persons who are placed at strategic positions to watch the surroundings,” added the cop. “Some of these lookout persons will even drive around the area to ensure the coast is clear.”
According to the policeman, other individuals in the group are mandated to follow the owner of the targeted vehicle and inform the rest of the gang as to how much time they have to carry out their illegal act after the owner leaves the vehicle.
Included in the gang of car thieves, the Jamaica Observer was also told, are mechanics, whose job it is to check the engine to determine if the vehicle is worth stealing.
Yesterday, a senior official at the Island Traffic Department confirmed the development.
“We have received information about this illegal scheme,” he said. “A high-level probe has been launched as we suspect that a number of used car dealers are linked to this development.”
Detectives in Spanish Town say they were able to foil an attempt by one of these groups at a popular plaza in the old capital last week.
“The men were part of a larger group of criminals who went to the plaza and attempted to steal a vehicle,” said one detective who was involved in the operation.
The criminals, he said, were stopped when they attempted to drive away the vehicle from the plaza but could not provide the security pass. An alarm was raised and a police team responded. Two men from the group were held. The others escaped.
“We found the two men held were part of a larger group. The men even came with their mechanic to check the engine of the vehicle,” said the detective.
The police are advising motorists to exercise greater caution when leaving their vehicles.