SHARJAH // Sharjah police have smashed three gangs of suspected car thieves accused of smuggling stolen cars out of the country and arrested 30 people, including Russians and Arabs, in the biggest operation of its kind in the emirate. The gangs used sophisticated technology and were also involved in forging credit cards and documents to enter the country, the police said. Brig Yusuf Musa al Naqbi, the head of Sharjah Criminal Investigation Department, said police seized 11 luxury cars from the first gang.
They had shipped five cars abroad but police co-ordinated with authorities in the destination countries and had so far recovered three of the vehicles. Police impounded an additional 11 cars being prepared for shipment from Jebeli Ali port and found more than 25 other cars the gang had bought at half the face value using bank loans. The gang members, most of whom were Russian, were arrested on July 9 after police searched one of their cars and found the latest electronic equipment used in the theft of cars with modern computer systems.
Brig Naqbi said the gangs were able to send data about target vehicles through a mobile phone camera to an electronic processing system that enabled them to make keys for the cars before they stole them. Decryption devices were used to unlock cars and then programme new codes into their on-board security systems. Police also seized equipment for forging credit cards and foreign currency, including US$3,000 (Dh11,000) and Japanese yen, Russian roubles, euros and dirhams.
"We found in their possession 47 credit cards and a fake stamp used to enter through Dubai International airport," Brig Naqbi said. "But of all these, the most important thing we got from them was their notebook." This contained a large amount of information that would help police to understand how the gang worked and arrest more of its members. It would also help in future inquiries. The information included the name of the mastermind of the gang, identified as Ahmed Zuhair, who is reportedly wanted for car theft in other countries and had been deported from Japan for the offence.
Another gang leader was identified as an Indian named Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Qassim. The notebook also contained detailed information about the gang's operations, including the vehicles it had stolen, the countries to which they were sent and the mobile phones used in the operation. Police captured another gang of 14, including Arabs and Russians, after arresting a Syrian named Ahmed Jamal Qabbani in a stolen Toyota Prado with an altered number plate.
Most of the cars stolen by this gang were from rental companies. Police said Qabbani, who had been in the country on a visit visa for two months, confessed he had been brought here for the operation. The third gang, led by a Pakistani named Mohammed Junaid, allegedly used a team of eight juveniles from India and Pakistan. Police said the leader threatened the young people with violence and deportation if they refused to co-operate.
They had stolen several cars and sold them to Iraq before they were caught after stealing a 2007 Toyota Corolla from a Sharjah resident. Brig Humaid al Hadidi, the director-general of Sharjah Police, urged people to be very careful to not allow their children to get involved with such gangs. Brig Hadidi warned anyone tempted to buy cheap cars to verify first that they had not been stolen. He also stressed that motorists should not leave vehicles unattended with their engines running and to make sure they were parked in safe places.