MANILA, Philippines—After busting a car-theft syndicate that operated in Western Visayas and Northern Mindanao, the police are bringing the campaign against car thieves to Central Visayas, a transshipment hub for vehicles stolen in Luzon.
In a report to Director General Nicanor Bartolome, chief of the Philippine National Police, the commander of the Highway Patrol Group (HPG), Chief Supt. Leonardo Espina, said vehicles stolen in Luzon often ended up in clandestine automobile shops in Bacolod City and Cebu.
Espina said 12 stolen utility vehicles were recovered in Bohol in interdiction operations. The vehicles were mostly sports utility vehicles, such as Mitsubishi Pajero, Isuzu Crosswind, and Nissan Urvan. Espina said the vehicles were being used as public utility vehicles when intercepted.
The recovery of the stolen vehicles in Bohol bolstered the HPG’s assessment that Central Visayas was being used by a syndicate as a “major transshipment point” for the processing and trafficking on motor vehicles stolen in Luzon.
According to Espina, the syndicate is composed of carjackers who stole vehicles in Luzon; financiers who buy the stolen vehicles; transporters who move the vehicles on ferries from Luzon and deliver these to clandestine motor shops in Bacolod and Cebu.
The syndicate includes “mechanics and craftsmen who do the tampering, repainting and detailing work to give stolen cars a new look; and a network of document forgers, facilitators and corrupt bureaucrats who manufacture official documents to give stolen cars a new identity before these are offered for sale by local used-car dealers in the Visayas and Mindanao.”
Highway police have reported sightings of suspicious utility vehicles in Bohol from the last quarter of 2011 through early 2012.
Espina said verification with the Land Transportation Office produced information that the vehicles had dubious or highly irregular registration records.
Follow-up operations led to the recent dismantling of the “Baktin network” of car thieves. Espina said the network operated in Manila, Bacolod and Cagayan de Oro.
Six months of operations launched by the HPG in Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos City and Bohol resulted in the recovery of 67 stolen motor vehicles, mostly sports utility vehicles, commuter vans and sedans that had been shipped to the south by the syndicate.