Africa a thriving market for stolen cars – Africa Review
Africa a flourishing market for stolen cars
If luxury cars have become a more common look on African roads, that is in part due to it becoming a prime destination for cars lifted off European streets.
Africa, along with Russia, is believed by Interpol to be the top destination for the quarter of a million unrecovered stolen vehicles in Europe in the past five years.
According to Sebastian Schmucker, in charge of combating the trafficking of stolen vehicles at the international police agency, cars stolen in northern Europe usually end up in Russia, while those in southern Europe are shipped to Africa.
Right-hand drive cars stolen from Britain often end up in South Africa, where driving is also on the left.
“Isolated thefts just because a car is beautiful don’t exist anymore,” said Schmucker.
“The trafficking of stolen cars is part of organised crime, of drugs, weapons and even terrorism, which it finances. It is relatively plain and the risk is low,” he added.
If the number of cars stolen has recently dipped, their value has enhanced.
Thieves are targeting high-end vehicles.
SUVs — urban four-wheel drive vehicles — are “preferred in Africa due to the condition of the roads”, said Schmucker.
In Abidjan, a source familiar with the market for stolen cars said buyers place an order with an importer for a car, even requesting the colour of the seats.
The importer “calls his team, who pore over classified ads in France”.
Once they have found the decent vehicle, they turn up to the seller and buy the vehicle.
“In fact they pay. but with false bank cheques. When then next day owners see their accounts credited with several ems of thousands of euros the next day they sign over their cars,” said the source.
By the time the banks realise cheques have been falsified the vehicles are already out of the country.
Upon their arrival in Abidjan the cars are registered and the fresh proprietor thinks he has got a good deal on a used car.
“They don’t know where they’ve come from,” said the source.
The source said French authorities have been investigating the head of the gang, which is believed to be behind around four hundred thefts, but the protection he receives in Abidjan as a result of his believed links to the regime means they have been incapable to arrest him.
According to Interpol, one hundred sixty stolen cars have been recovered in Africa since 2009.
In two thousand twelve in Germany alone, some Eighteen,500 vehicles worth two hundred fifty million euros were stolen, according to Interpol data.