Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have traditionally been prime markets for vehicle thieves looking to sell stolen cars. But Pratapgadh district of Uttar Pradesh (UP) has recently earned the dubious distinction of a hub for gangs that are actively involved in car thefts in Mumbai.
“Questioning of some arrested accused has revealed that most of the kingpins of gangs, as well as key-makers, belong to the same Pratapgadh district of Uttar Pradesh,” said a police officer, requesting anonymity.
An officer from the anti-motor vehicle theft cell said vehicle thieves come to the city once they receive orders for particular four-wheelers, and rope in local gangs to pick up the car. When the car reaches the borders of Maharashtra, gangs from Pratapgadh dive into action, changing number plates, giving it a fresh coat of paint, and driving it to UP.
Officers said the gangs from Pratapgadh earn Rs 40,000 to Rs one lakh on each car that they steal. They are well-trained, and aware of different locks and alarm systems, and skilled in making duplicate keys for older models.
Many of the city’s top most car thieves, who have dozens of cases against them, hail from Pratapgadh, including Khurshid Ahmed Nisar Ahmed, arguably the most notorious car thief in Mumbai, Nasrat Ali, Afsar Ahmed Sheikh alias Bijli, Gul Hasan, Kallan, Mittan, Rashid, Nisar Irshad alias Munna, Ayub Ali alias Guddu, Shakeer Ali, Afsar alias Lohar, Sarvar, Anhad, Shakib alias Fatte, Taufik alias Pappu, and Ansar, among others.
According to officers, more than 35 vehicle theft gangs operate in the city, and many of their members are former taxi drivers and mechanics.
“Poverty, coupled with greed for quick money, ensures that the kingpins in UP do not have shortage of men. When the demand for vehicles is more during general elections, they manage to recruit men on short notice and meet the order for more vehicles,” an officer said.
Spokesperson for Mumbai police Dhananjay Kulkarni said Mumbai police are aware about gangs from UP operating in the city, and the anti-motor theft vehicle cell usually monitors them to prevent cases.
Vehicles stolen (Source: Mumbai police)
2008 – 4,068
2009 – 4,183
2010 – 4,167
2011 – 4,702
2013 – 3,789
2014 – 3,474
Most stolen cars are not traced
* Every year, nearly 36,000 vehicles, amounting to Rs 115 crore in value, are stolen in India. Of these, only about 14,500 are traced, often in deplorable condition, with many components missing
* These vehicles are stolen only because thieves are given the opportunity to do so. Very often, cars are left improperly secured and unattended. It is only with the installation of anti-theft devices that a thief’s attempts can be thwarted
Simple do's and don’ts:
What one should do
* Use securing devices such as steering lock, clutch lock, brake locks
* Double-check all doors, including the boot
* If possible, install loud alarm systems in your car, so that thieves are discouraged even if they manage to break into your car
* Try and use detachable music systems and take them with you whenever you park the car for a long time
* Parking in a secure parking facility (garage, petrol pump) at night also safeguards against theft. If such parking facilities are not available, parking in a well-lit area is the next best alternative
* Paint your car number on the front and rear end of the body, apart from the number plates. Ideally, have it etched on the windscreens and window glasses too. This prevents them from being misused by criminals, using fake number plates
What NOT to do
* Never leave the vehicle door unlocked, or the windows partially open. Make sure the quarter glasses are properly secured
* Do not leave valuables inside the car, even if it is locked, as this will attract thieves
* Do not go overboard with extra fittings, as these tempt thieves
* Never leave the key dangling in the ignition
In case your car is stolen
* Report the theft to the nearest police station
* Inform your insurance company