MUMBAI Stolen vehicles from Mumbai are in great demand in states such as Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, according to the Mumbai police.A police officer, who worked with the anti-motor vehicle theft unit (MVTU) before it was shut, said, “People who buy scrap or vehicles damaged in an accident from insurance companies run this racket in connivance with garage owners and mechanics. The modus operandi was unearthed last year, after a gang was busted. They used to buy scrapped vehicles from insurance companies. They would then get in touch with thieves in the city, demanding vehicles of the same make, model and colour. The stolen cars were then sent to a garage where their number plates, engine number and chassis numbers were swapped with the damaged car. These vehicles would then be sold to new customers,” said the officer.Dheeraj Koli, police inspector, property cell, said, “Earlier, the stolen cars were sold mainly in western parts of India, but the trend has changed. At times, we find the stolen vehicles even in the North-East”. According to the police, at least three to four groups are involved in stealing a vehicle. Thieves don’t steal random cars, but they look for the specifications mentioned by those running the racket. “The accused identify the vehicle and keep a close watch on the owner’s routine. After crossing the check-naka in Mumbai and Thane, they hand it over to another group,” said the officer.Most of the thefts happen at night, so that the vehicle is out of the city before the owner approaches the police, he said.