Beware: Stolen vehicles on sale Beware: Stolen vehicles on sale SEBASTIAN MRINDOKO THIS DAY Dar es Salaam BUYERS beware - some of the shiny new (and not-so-new) motor vehicles being sold on the cheap at the mushrooming car dealerships in the country could actually be stolen property. According to the country's chief police detective, authorities have now discovered that vehicles that may be the fruits of an international car robbery network are being sold to unsuspecting buyers at some backyard car dealerships in Dar es Salaam and elsewhere around the country. Speaking in an exclusive interview with THISDAY, the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Commissioner of Police Robert Manumba, urged buyers to therefore be on their guard when shopping for a car. He also called for more vigilance on the part of government departments and agencies involved in issuing vehicle import licences, and for regular inspections at car dealerships to nab unscrupulous businessmen involved in the suspected network. ''Selling stolen cars while pretending to have imported them legally is not only a crime, but an abuse of the import licence and the issuing authority,'' Manumba said. He told THISDAY that it was high time the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and other relevant authorities started earmarking car business dealers who might be involved in such a scam. The DCI noted that new car theft techniques are being invented almost every day, and that it is also common for practicing car dealers to be involved in the importation and sale of stolen cars from various countries around the world. ''This is an international network where dealers receive vehicles from various parts of the world in the name of importation, but in the real sense they are stolen,'' he said. According to Manumba, authorities responsible for issuing import licences should cross-check all documents provided by vehicle importing companies with those of the exporting company, to ensure authenticity. He said already the criminal investigation department (CID) in collaboration with INTERPOL is working on claims of stolen cars brought into the country from various countries both in and outside Africa. He noted that vehicle robbery is one of the most difficult crimes to investigate. According to Manumba, regular checks should also be made in shops that sell vehicle spare parts, particularly used, due to growing allegations that some shops actually sell spare parts of stolen vehicles. Many stolen vehicles are quickly dismantled in a bid to escape detection, most often in unlicensed garages, and the spare parts sold off as separate entities. The DCI urged the TRA and other authorities to collaborate with the police in identifying stolen vehicle spare parts in order to bring down the illegal business. Meanwhile, some established car dealership firms in the city have also spoken out against the trend of importing and selling stolen vehicles, saying it only served to taint the image of the business as a whole. A spokesman for one used-car car dealership, Agent Commissions, Habib Abeid, told THISDAY that the police in collaboration with the TRA should work hard to flush out such unethical business people ''who are not only destroying the good image of serious companies like ours, but also of the whole government.'' An official of another car selling firm, Road Runner Motors, who gave only one name of Emendra, advised the police and TRA to regularly inspect car showrooms to cross-check vehicle import and sale documents. He said the illegal business in stolen cars can only be terminated if all 'stakeholders' were to join efforts in combating it. A spokesman for Saadan Commission Agents, who preferred anonymity, said the government should take stern measures against people found to be involved in selling stolen cars in order to protect the country's image. ''It is true that the business exists, and there are known and famous business persons involved in it. But unfortunately, the government - especially the police - has been silent in arresting and prosecuting them,'' he said.