THE Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is conducting a joint operation with the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) targeting top-of-the-range vehicles believed to have been stolen in neighbouring countries and smuggled into the country.
The operation is not only being conducted in Zimbabwe, but in the region at large as police seek to stop the theft of posh vehicles that are often smuggled to foreign nations.
Most of the vehicles are smuggled using fake documents before their engines and chassis numbers are tampered with to obtain genuine documents.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed that the police were participating in such an operation.
“We are not only targeting posh vehicles but stolen and unregistered vehicles and those that were not cleared properly. On unregistered vehicles, we are saying there is no reason whatsoever that they should be driven without number plates because the Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) informed us that they have no backlogs and that they have adequate registration number plates in stock,” he said.
Asst Comm Nyathi said the CVR had notified the police that once someone applied for registration number plates, they will be able to get them within 48 hours.
A team of detectives from the CID Vehicle Theft Squad and other sections countrywide has since been deployed to conduct the blitz that is targeting the luxurious vehicles.
Law enforcement agents from other countries within the region are also carrying out the operation.
ZRP will soon release statistics of vehicles it has impounded so far.
In 2014, Interpol and ZRP conducted an operation code-named “Usalamu” targeting stolen vehicles.
The operation was being conducted in other Interpol member countries and law enforcement agents were targeting Isuzu trucks and Toyota Fortuner SUVs, which were being smuggled in and out of the country.
Nearly 7,2 million cars were reported stolen in 127 countries worldwide in 2013. Most of the vehicles were lost through car-jacking while others were stolen from parking lots.
“Interpol’s Stolen Motor Vehicles database contains more than 7,2 million records submitted by 127 member countries. There has been a large increase in the use of the SMV database in recent years — from three million searches in 2007 to more than 100 million searches,” Interpol said then
In 2005, 3 296 263 vehicles were stolen, in 2012 there were 7 250 909, 7 097 877 in 2011 and in 2010 there were 7 156 792 reports. In 2004, the figure was 7 288 741.
Interpol also said: “Vehicle crime is a highly organised criminal activity affecting all regions of the whole world and with clear links to organised crime and terrorism.”
Interpol is the world’s largest international police organisation, with 190 members. Its role is to enable police around the world to work together.
All member countries are connected through a secure communications system known as I-24/ 7.
This gives police real-time access to criminal databases containing millions of records globally.
Interpol’s unique system of notices is used to alert member countries to fugitives, dangerous criminals, missing persons, and weapons threats.
In 2017, a Tanzanian national was arrested at Mount Selinda Border Post in Chipinge for allegedly trying to smuggle into Mozambique a BMW X4, which he had reportedly stolen at gunpoint in South Africa.