SHARJAH // A gang of 17 suspected car thieves has been arrested in the second such incident this week, emphasising the scale of a burgeoning problem that is concerning some local motorists.
The group stole vehicles from car parks and then sold most of them outside of the country, a police spokesman said. The gang of Arab and Asian men specialised in changing the colour of the vehicles and modifying their chassis before smuggling them out of the country.
"The vehicles were sold so cheaply," the spokesman said. "They sold vehicles in very good conditions in the range of Dh6,000 to Dh30,000."
Four suspected car thieves arrested on Monday in an unrelated case were involved in a number of inter-regional car thefts in the Gulf, police said. Another group of 12 men was detained last week for allegedly stealing some two dozen luxury vehicles and exporting them with forged documents. Residents of the emirate are becoming increasingly concerned about the rise in car thefts, which some say has risen to epidemic proportions. Mohammed al Arabi, an Egyptian who lives in the Rolla area, had kept his Jeep Wrangler in the neighbourhood car park until a 2008 Toyota Camry disappeared from the same area in August.
Mr al Arabi now leaves his Jeep in the neighbouring Mubarak Centre car park.
A police team set up to investigate the recent incidents discovered that a garage in Industrial Area 3 was carrying out suspicious activities. They then raided the workshop and arrested two employees who were painting the cars.
After further investigation police were able to arrest 17 suspects who were allegedly able to smuggle the vehicles out of the country by using forged documents. They included men from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Syria and Iraq.