Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Analysis of the last three year police records on car thefts shows less than 25 percent of cases were taken to court.
The statistics compiled by Criminal Investigations Directorate-CID indicate that police registered 1,114 car thefts countrywide in 2019, but only 244 were taken to court which translates into 21.9 percent. A total of 870 cases were left pending.
Although vehicle thefts increased to 1,200 in 2018, still CID took only 21 percent of the cases to court. Detectives submitted 253 case files to court leaving 947 cases hanging. The scenario was not different in 2017 as only 298 out of 1,422 cases were taken to court.
One of the victims of car theft who preferred anonymity because police helped him recover some money from a car thief alleges that culprits often connive with police operatives to steal vehicles and sell them to neighboring countries particularly the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC.
The man claims his car was valued at over 25 Million Shillings but when it was stolen, he reported a case at Kampala Central Police Station–CPS. He was shocked when the suspect was arrested and five turned up accusing the same person.
“To my surprise, policemen were the ones urging us to agree with the suspect so that he could refund part of our money. I only got 15 million shillings. The suspect confessed that he had sold our vehicles to DR Congo. The suspect was never seen again,” said the victim who does some business with the police.
Milton Turyatunga whose car was stolen but safely recovered said it requires having connections at all border points and timely reporting is vital.
“My car was stolen when I was still conducting the transfer process. I alerted 999 patrol but also contacted my security friends at all DR Congo border points. It was intercepted and returned to me,” Turyatunga said.
CID spokesperson Charles Twine admits that investigation and prosecution of car thieves is one of the most challenging crimes. Twine attributes the difficulties to victims who negotiate with arrested suspects before cases go to court.
“The biggest challenge we have had is the complainants who are more driven to recover the vehicle. The culprits in most cases rush to compensate the owners once they are arrested. The cases end up being dismissed because there are no witnesses,” Twine said.
CID indicates that cars whose consumption does not exceed 2000 cc are the most targeted by culprits because they have a ready market in and outside Uganda. These include Premio, Spacio, Raum and Vitz.