Car thieves have devised a new technique so they can sell stolen cars at market price, using falsified documents, obtained through a section of the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) officials.
After stealing a car, the thieves bribe BRTA staff to provide legitimate registration documents for other cars, matching the make and model of the stolen vehicles. Following this, they doctor the stolen car’s parts - replacing the engine, chassis, and registration numbers with data from the legitimate registration documents. The criminals then change the numbers on the relevant car parts and paint the stolen car the same colour as the legitimate registered vehicle, essentially making a clone.
This results in several cars on the road with the same documents – a situation which can put the real owner in trouble, said detective officials.
“I was in my Toyota Premio going to Tangail when detectives stopped my car and said they had seized my vehicle from a road in the city,” said Emdadul Haque, a trader from Tangail, on Sunday.
“Taken aback, I came to the office of the Detective Branch (DB) of police on Sunday and found a Toyota Premio with the same number plate, and registration documents that had my photograph attached as the owner,” he said at the DB office.
Emdadul bought the car from a show room at Bijoynagar five years ago for Tk975,000.
Detectives have seized 15 such clone cars from different areas in the capital in a series of drives from Wednesday to Saturday and arrested the ring leader of the car thieves, Md Ismail Hossain, 37. Police also arrested his two cohorts – Md Hanif Mridha, 32, and Imran, 41, – in connection with the thefts, said Joint Commissioner of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), Monirul Islam.
The arrestees were produced before a press briefing at the media centre of the DMP in the capital on Sunday.
Monirul said Ismail is a car thief. With his 25 gang members, he has been stealing cars from different areas in the capital for years.
“When a would-be buyer matches registration documents at the BRTA they find them genuine,” he said.
Detectives arrested Ismail in a car theft case filed on June 4 with Kafrul Police Station. During a three-day remand he revealed the information on his gang’s operating method. Police then carried out drives at Rampura, Banasree and Khilkhet areas, and recovered the stolen cars.
“We are trying to arrest the BRTA officials now,” said Monirul, adding that the real owners of the cars will also be contacted.
When contacted by the Dhaka Tribune, BRTA Director of Engineering, Saiful Haque denied the allegations, and said the documents may have been leaked from the National Board of Revenue (NBR) or police, as both institutions are provided copies. “The owner doesn’t need to come to the BRTA office when a car’s ownership is changed. Anyone can sell a used car if he has the documentation. So, to verify the document, careful buyers should check the owners’ address or meet him physically,” he suggested. Haque added that the BRTA had never heard about such cases of registration forgery.