700 vehicles stolen in first five months of 2023. Bandits targeting Tiidas, Aquas.

700 vehicles stolen in first five months of 2023. Bandits targeting Tiidas, Aquas.

700 vehicles stolen in first five months of 2023. Bandits targeting Tiidas, Aquas.

Close to 700 vehicles were reported stolen across the country during the first five months of this year, according to statistics provided by officers of the Stolen Vehicle Squad of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS).

Although no statistics were provided for 2022, the situation was described as worrying by acting Assistant Commissioner of the TTPS Criminal Division Kent Ghisyawan, Inspector Lloyd Lazarus and Sergeant Shala Julien on Thursday.

Despite the high number of cars reported stolen, less than 50 per cent have been recovered, officers revealed.

“From January 1 to June 1, 2023, there were 691 incidents of reported stolen vehicles. From these incidents, we had a 39 per cent recovery rate of these said stolen vehicles,” Sgt Julien said during the TTPS media briefing at the Police Administration Building in Port-of-Spain.

The Northern Division accounted for 34 per cent of the stolen vehicles while the Central and North-eastern Divisions accounted for 18 and 12 per cent, respectively.

Officers said criminals have shown a preference for Nissan Tiidas, making them the number one stolen vehicle in the country this year, thus surpassing the Toyota Aqua which held the position last year.

“In respect to the most targeted vehicles, they are as follows – Nissan Tiida represented the highest amount followed by Toyota Aqua, thereafter Nissan AD Wagon, alongside the Nissan Wingroad. The Toyota Fielder also came in as well. In the area of the vans, we had Kia K2700 and the Hyundai H100 being amongst the highest targeted,” Sgt Julien said.

The TTPS has since ramped up stolen vehicle exercises, which have so far led to the arrest of five people in connection with a car theft ring in the Central Division.

More importantly, car owners are once again being urged to safeguard their vehicles by investing in security features such as GPS, shift locks, interior monitoring systems or a GSM car alarm.

“Consider a GSM car alarm. This allows a message to be sent to the subscriber if the vehicle is broken into and the more popular option is to install a GPS tracking system which allows the owner to know the precise location of the vehicle. And there are some features where the vehicle can be shut down remotely,” Sgt Julien explained.

The police sergeant also highlighted a video which has been circulating online that was captured by a Valsayn resident. It showed neighbours chasing away car thieves using air horns. He said neighbourhood watch groups such as this one can reduce the number of vehicles being reported stolen in the country.

He also denied that any reports have been received by the unit on devices being used to disable cars. He was responding to a voice recording in which a man alleged that thieves had been driving in a panel van using a device to disable locks, then offering assistance to unsuspecting victims.

Sgt Julien urged people to “avoid casual strangers who may be over-enthusiastic to help” and instead contact the police.

The Stolen Vehicles Squad can be reached 627-0729.

Article Courtesy Trinidad and Tobago Guardian