The case of stolen side mirrors and stereo systems

Published: December 1, 2015
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One should be mindful that these criminals operate in pairs and one of them is mostly carrying a firearm. It is advised not to get into any kind of confrontation with them upon encounter. A safer option is to raise alarm.

Fahad Ahmed, a banker by profession, was provided a company-maintained car by his employer. After having upgraded from a two-wheeler and now commuting in luxury, this brand new 1300cc vehicle was the car of his dreams. Little did he know that soon he would be coming under tremendous stress, just in order to keep this car safe from various criminals, roaming the streets of Karachi.

It was a Sunday and Fahad had gone to his in-laws for dinner with his wife and two kids. After attending to the social call and exchanging farewell, the family returned to their brand new car only to discover that the side mirrors were missing. Soon they realised that someone had actually broken the entire frame along with the mirrors and the only part left were the wires hanging out from the sockets. That very moment, all their dreams were shattered and the trip back home was a torture.

Aliya Mir works at a multinational company and drives to and back from work in her 1800cc vehicle on a daily basis. Having her side mirrors stolen was a routine affair for her, but one fine day when she stepped out of her office and reached her car, she realised that the driver’s side window was smashed and her in-car entertainment system along with the air conditioning vents and knobs were missing. She had to drive back home without any air conditioning and an empty space where she once had her expensive entertainment system installed.

Although the car was insured and she would get the stolen items compensated for, but it was the mental agony and the fact that someone actually broke into her car and stole something that belonged to her that bothered her.

Such instances are now a routine activity for Karachiites. Be it outside a mosque, a mall, grocery store, marriage halls and banquets, bank or even your own houses, no place is safe and these robbers strike with impunity. A little research on this rapidly growing crime has revealed the following facts:

Types of criminals

These are not your regular muggers or street criminals. These are instead a group of highly skilled technicians, who have connections with vendors operating in the automobile parts and accessories markets in Saddar, Sher Shah etc.

They have the required skills to disarm a vehicle’s security system, dismantle different types of frames and compartments (be it an old one or a brand new model), in a matter of few seconds and get away with the loot.

Modus operandi

These criminals work in pairs. They ride pillion on a motorbike and as soon as they spot an unattended car in a secluded neighbourhood, one of them – the tech guy – moves towards the targeted vehicle while the other one is on a lookout duty to keep an eye out on any law enforcers, owner of the car or the general public.

The tech guy circles around the car to make sure that no one is watching and then assesses the security system of the vehicle. Experienced ones enter the car by breaking the rear quarter vent and make it to the front portion.

The entire dismantling and escaping the crime scene takes hardly 20 seconds. Most of these criminals use proper tools and will leave your car unscratched, taking just the stereo system/ entertainment system only or most of the time, the entire air conditioning panel.

Side mirrors are easier to steal. All that is required is a small screwdriver and a little bit of expertise. Some of them are quite ruthless and do not hesitate in chipping off the entire frame, which again takes just a few seconds.

What kinds of cars get targeted?

These criminals target different models of Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Honda City and from the imported category of vehicles, their target vehicles include Toyota Premio, Allion, Belta, Vitz and even Toyota Fortuner. The latest models come with panels that can very easily be dismantled without even using many tools, which makes it more convenient for thieves to get their job done in a matter of a few seconds.

What should the general public do?

Those who can afford should drive in the company of domestic help or be driven by a chauffeur. It would be safer if the car needs to be parked in open or at an unguarded location. Installing one of those security systems with sensors and remote-controlled vibration alert systems can be of some help.

Smash-proof films can be installed on the car windows that can stand blows and attempts of break-ins. Vendors of such films are located in Badar Commercial, Zamzama and Khadda Market.

One should be mindful that these criminals operate in pairs and one of them is mostly carrying a firearm. It is advised not to get into any kind of confrontation with them upon encounter. A safer option would be to raise alarm.

What can the police do?

All stolen parts are sold at Sher Shah and Saddar. If the police want to curb this menace, all they have to do is set up surveillance around and inside the markets dealing with used and stolen vehicle parts and catch the criminals on the spot.

Why they haven’t done so yet is, well, not hard to imagine.

Arsalan Faruqi

Arsalan Faruqi

An entrepreneur with a degree in computer engineering and an MBA from IBA Karachi. He tweets as @arsalanfaruqi (twitter.com/arsalanfaruqi)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Rishabh Jain

    Use high alert security sirens. Also ask makers to fit these cars with EBD.Recommend

  • Naila

    Or on the same note, just leave pakistan and live the one live you got in peace. With pakistani passport, Bhutan would not be a bad choice.Recommend

  • Humayun

    All their dreams were shattered just because someone stole their side view mirrors??

    What a lame blogRecommend

  • Umair

    Dreams shattering after a mirror is stolen!! Come on arsalan!! :PRecommend

  • Wajih Nasim

    My car multimedia along with AC panel and knobs just stolen last month from my Honda city, car was parked outside my house and it was stolen before dawn :(…. We should protest to have some serious initiatives from the authorities. I reported it to police even rangers both regretted and showed no mercy.Recommend

  • Sane

    Very surprising and sad to read your comment. You have stone heart and freezed mind that a problem does not look a problem to you.Recommend

  • talha usmani

    If dreams not shattered, but at-least victim goes through a lot of mental agony and frustration. That really increases the mental stress upon a person.Recommend

  • http://www.thetrueperspective.com/ Hamza

    It looks like a problem to her that’s why she’s suggesting we should leave Pakistan to go live in Bhutan. And can you really blame her? The incidents mentioned in this blog aren’t one offs. They happen frequently and regularly. Combine that with the state’s lack of will and power, and the other million issues with this country and suddenly going to Bhutan sounds very tempting.Recommend

  • http://www.thetrueperspective.com/ Hamza

    EBD is electronic brakeforce distribution. It’s a braking technology that automatically allocates maximum braking force to the wheel that needs it the most. You probably mean immobilizer. Immobilizers make it extremely hard to steal a car because you need a matching RFID key to start a car.Recommend

  • Iftikhar Ali

    One simple solution will be to write “POLICE ” on your car, no one will touch itRecommend

  • Haris

    One most important fact is these muggers are supported by insurance companies who insist that no depreciation will be charged on used parts where infact these used parts are actually stolen parts:(Recommend

  • nishantsirohi123

    spending hard earned money , for a salaried person, to purchase a car and then getting it vandalised is the worst experience
    unless u are lahori.Recommend

  • nishantsirohi123

    is that the solution to every problem in pakistan, flee the country, isnt it the elite or newly rich or upper middle class of pakistan aims at … getting visa for foreign country … which actually explains why pakistan is in a “neglected state”Recommend

  • Pro Truth

    if they know getting into car will raise alarm by the car, they will just get away with side mirrors.
    recently faced by this same kind of stealer, who removed both of the side mirrors of my Premio when i was visiting my cousins place! Police should clamp down on sellers who deals with stolen goods to stop this crime. I will install GPS chips in my next set of mirrors to track them down.Recommend

  • Spyrogyra

    Just put up the flag of a well known political party. Nobody would dare touch your vehicle.Recommend

  • Hunaid

    They steal the battery too.Recommend

  • Necromancer

    How does the writer knows so much detail how they operate (criminals)………….My fair guess would be he is involved…………..LEA should look into the matterRecommend

  • Rishabh Jain

    Sorry. I meant immobiliser only.Recommend

  • yhusain

    What can the police do? Police are already getting there share from the market. Why would they be concerned with the difficulties a common person encounters.Recommend