Chandigarh: The Chandigarh police have busted an inter-state gang of car lifters who used to mostly steal expensive vehicles in the region, police said Friday.
The police have recovered 42 vehicles, the single largest recovery of four-wheelers in Chandigarh, including a Mitsubishi Pajero, two Toyota Innovas, five Mahindra Scorpios, four Tata Safaris, three Mahindra Baleros and Four Hyundai Vernas.
A Chandigarh police spokesman said here Friday that the gang used to steal vehicles and then forge documents before selling them to unsuspecting buyers.
The police have arrested five people — including a vehicle scrap dealer, Vipin Kumar, and a second hand car dealer, Harinder, the spokesman said. One car lifter, Kala of Meerut, is absconding.
The total market value of the recovered vehicles is over Rs.2 crore.
The gang sold the stolen vehicles with new papers to customers in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
The tip-off about this gang of car lifters came to the police from another gang of vehicle lifters busted in August this year, the spokesman said.
“It was revealed that another inter-state gang was also active in the region, which converted the stolen vehicles into (legal) vehicles by using the registration certificate and other genuine documents of accidental (total loss) vehicles,” he said.
Based on this information, the police arrested Vipin Kumar, a scrap dealer operating from Burail area of Chandigarh. He used to buy the scrap of total loss vehicles in accidents. A white Innova car was recovered from his possession.
The police are investigating the role of insurance companies and their surveyors in helping the gang members forge documents of total loss vehicles in accidents.
“During investigation it was found that the original vehicle of that registration number had met with an accident on 31-12-2010 at Phagwara (in Punjab) and as per the original owner of that vehicle, the said vehicle was declared total loss and the scrap of that vehicle was sold to Vipin,” the spokesman said.
Describing the modus operandi of the gang, the spokesman said: “The scrap dealer Vipin and his accomplices used to purchase the accidental vehicles from either the owner of the vehicles with the help of a surveyor or in the auction/direct sale of accidental total loss vehicles from insurance companies. Besides the scrap of the vehicles, he also managed to procure the original registration certificate and other documents of the said vehicles. Then these accused persons used to steal vehicles of same make and colour.”
After tampering with the engine and chassis numbers of the stolen vehicles, the gang used to put the numbers of the accidental vehicles on these and used to sell them to unsuspecting people.
“Prima-facie, it is revealed that the nexus is being run by the scrap dealer, vehicle lifter, surveyors of insurance companies and car dealers,” the police spokesman said.
He said that in case of total loss accidental vehicles, it was the duty of the owners and insurance companies to report the total loss to the registering authority so that the registration of the vehicle could be cancelled and any possible misuse could be prevented.
“But it has been observed that these provisions are not being followed by the original owners of the vehicles or by the insurance companies. The accused have exploited these loopholes,” he said.
He added that the police was expecting further information from the interrogation of the arrested people to break the nexus between car lifters, insurance surveyors, scrap dealers and others.