There’s no place to hide anymore. The verdict is out: Delhi’s brigade of Lucky Singhs is a disaster. Instead of stealing expensive cars that zip across Delhi roads — and occasionally on pavements at night — they are targeting the humble jalopy of the common man, the Maruti-800. Delhi Police statistics show one out of every three cars stolen in the capital is an 800. That’s not all, the thieves, who we imagine are true believers of the ‘be Indian, steal Indian’ policy, seem to love cars that come out of the Maruti stable. Of the 3,000 cars stolen in 2009, 1,700 were from the Gurgaon-based auto giant. Of these, 650 were 800s because they have — no prizes for guessing — great resale value.
There are some other advantages that make the little ones so steal-worthy. They are easy to unlock, their sheer numbers make them difficult to trace and, of course, Delhi’s proximity to the badlands of Uttar Pradesh. Once your white Maruti-800, the Plain Jane of the automobile industry, crosses the border, it is taken to a chop shop where the best of India’s forgers give it a makeover and new papers. They are then sold to new owners while you take a step back to board those crowded Delhi Transport Corporation buses again.
Since buying (no matter how much your spouse is rooting for it) a new expensive car might be daunting in an economic slowdown, there are only two ways to ensure the jalopy doesn’t get stolen. A vibrant colour — keep the aesthetics in mind though — and a sturdy lock.