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PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu (right) with Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja (left) during the commissioning and handover of 91 houses for Kamfinsa police in Kitwe yesterday. Between them is Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo. PICTURE: SALIM HENRY/STATE HOUSE

Police should stop car thefts

The mandate of Zambia Police Service is to maintain public order and safety, enforce the law, prevent, detect, and investigate criminal activities. By reducing the threat of criminality, the police contribute to improving the quality of life for citizens in the country. This is because citizens will be stress-free knowing that their lives and property are safe from criminals. That is why the police should have taken interest in, among other issues, the mushrooming car-breaking business a long time ago.
So, when Inspector-General of Police Kakoma Kanganja says he has directed the police to investigate private spare parts dealers to ascertain their sources, it makes good reading. Mr Kanganja has a point. That is definitely one way to curb theft. Vehicles are stolen and dismantled for spares, and that is well-known. With so many informal spare parts dealers, the stage is set for this thriving spare part market. This is the case for laptops and mobile phones as well, which end up on the black market.
While it is almost impossible to get rid of the black market, those selling car spare parts must indeed be legitimately bona fide. With oversight and foresight, police should have already been on top of things because they are not an island. They have from time to time been victims of stolen vehicles or mirrors which find their way either on the streets or the black market. That is why for a security institution of their stature, police need a full complement of professionals deployed in the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and their intelligence wing to be on the lookout for emerging security threats. The thefts of motor vehicles or accessories have been going on for decades by some people involved in car breaking. This type of crime has been trending for a while without police paying attention even when they or their relatives and friends have been victims. Recently, motorists were alerted by crimes involving the theft of muffler catalytic converters from vehicles.
People are believed to steal these parts because of what they are made of – platinum and palladium – two of the world’s extremely precious metals which are said to be very expensive.
Muffler catalytic converters are found in the undercarriage of the vehicle and filter the exhaust which comes out of the car. Thieves, colluding with mechanics, slide underneath cars and remove the converter off in less than a minute. All these are emerging crimes related to motor vehicle thefts which police should have been aware of, just like the motivation behind the selling of scrap metal after the vehicle has been cannibalised of its precious parts. However, it is not too late for the police to catch up with this criminality, which is causing people sleepless nights. It is common nowadays for motorists to wake up in the morning to find either tyres, rear-view mirrors or muffler catalytic converter stolen.
To expedite investigations and get the best out of the men and women in uniform, the police command should find ways of motivating good-performing officers. Police should also work with players in the motor industry, insurance and the local authorities to help regulate the car-breaking and scrap metal business. There is need for sanity to prevail, and the buck stops at the police.