DUBAI // A gang of five men stole dozens of cars in the UAE by hooking vehicles to a tow truck and driving away, police said yesterday.
The gang had been operating for three months, but police caught up with them on Monday, arresting everyone involved with the syndicate.
"The men travelled with a tow lorry and forged documents, spotting cars they targeted around the city," said Brig Gen Khalil Al Mansoori, the director general of the CID at Dubai Police.
"They placed a note on the targeted car stating that they wanted to purchase it, asking the owner to call.
"After a few days and no contact, they would know that the person was possibly out of the country and would go with the tow truck, break the glass and take it to their chop shops in Sharjah."
A 100-member police team, code-named Iron Glove, had scoured the country investigating the crimes, police said.
The gang stole more than 30 cars from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other emirates, then disassembled them for illegal export.
Officials showed pictures of Toyota Camrys, Nissan Tidas and Range Rovers, among other models, which had been stripped down and prepared for shipping to an unnamed country.
According to police, many reports filed across the UAE sparked the investigation.
"The gang was initially operating in the Muragabat, Rifaa and Satwa districts before they moved on to the Jebel Ali area," Brig Gen Al Mansoori said.
"We located and arrested them in a warehouse in Sharjah, where they chopped the cars up before preparing them for export."
The bulk of the thefts took place in the Gardens and Discovery Gardens areas, both in Jebel Ali, Brig Gen Al Mansoori said. A report filed on June 28 by a resident there had led to the arrests.
A Toyota Corolla owned by a resident was reported missing at the Jebel Ali Police station, Brig Gen Al Mansoori said.
"The investigation team located the tow truck that was seen on the site and detained the driver."
Information from the driver led police to a warehouse in Sharjah where the chopped-up cars and the remaining suspects were found.
"We have obtained detailed confessions from the suspects and have referred them to face theft and forgery charges," he said.
All the men had faced car theft charges before, including one man who had been deported but who had then returned illegally.
"The details of the case have been shared with all police agencies in the country through the Ministry of Interior," said Brig Gen Al Mansoori.
"We have obtained information that the men have stolen cars in other emirates and are trying to find any links with reports across the country."
Paul Joseph, a 34-year-old project manager and Gardens resident, was one of the theft victims.
Mr Joseph said he had discovered his car missing on June 21.
"While police were inspecting the crime scene, a neighbour whose balcony is facing the car park said that she had seen a group of five people towing a car parked in that same spot yesterday after smashing the window on the passenger side," he said.
"She said that a security guard patrolling that area had walked up to them and was seen talking to that group of people."
Mr Joseph said he called the Nakheel office to ask what had happened, and was told one of the suspects had identified himself to the guard as the owner of the car and a resident of that building.
According to the CID's Col Jamal Al Jallaf, 52 car thefts had been reported in Dubai in the first quarter of the year.