Police officers tracking stolen vehicles from the United Kingdom have helped find 29 Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) in different parts of Uganda.
According to media reports, the UK police officers were tracking a Lexus but ended up finding 28 other stolen cars, with a value of about one million Pounds Sterling.
“They are likely to represent just a fraction of the cars smuggled out of the UK,” The Daily Mail reported.
According to the reports, the stolen vehicles are shipped to the port city of Mombasa in Kenya, before corrupt officials in both Kenya and Uganda connive to clear the pricey loot.
The officer who led the tracking team to Uganda, National Crime Agency Regional Manager Paul Stanfield, said they had cracked an international syndicate that steals mostly SUVs like Range Rovers, Audis and BMWs.
‘This investigation is an excellent example of the close cooperation between the UK National crime Agency, National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, Interpol and (anti-fraud investigators) APU to tackle the increasing threat from organised vehicle crime. Working with the police and security services of Kenya and Uganda, we have been able to dismantle an international criminal network that has been responsible for stealing high-value cars from the UK and exporting them to East Africa,” Mr Stanfield was quoted as saying.
It is said all the stolen cars have ‘keyless ignition’, something the thieves breach by reprogramming the manufacturers computerized set up.
This is not the first time the issue of stolen foreign vehicles is coming up; in September 2013 the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) impounded 27 cars with foreign number plates, some of which were reportedly stolen.
In February this year the URA impounded 47 foreign-registered cars, two of which had been stolen from the UK. Also, in September last year, a BMW belonging to the Presidential escort Unit (PEU) of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was stolen from Nairobi, only to be found ‘abandoned’ in Tororo, Uganda.
Meanwhile, The Daily Mail indicates that the 29 vehicles stolen from the UK, each estimated at 50,000 Pounds Sterling would be shipped back.