Kampala — More than 500 cars and 400 motorcycles that were stolen from Uganda last year alone were sold to neigbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), officials have revealed.
According to the 2016 crime report released by the International Police (Interpol) directorate in Kampala, 516 cars and 395 motorcycles were sneaked into DRC, as the go-to destination, by cross boarder criminals.
Sharing the statistics with Daily Monitor at the weekend, Mr Asan Kasingye, the director of Interpol, observed that on average, two cars and one motorcycle are smuggled to DRC every day.
The vehicles and motorcycles were stolen from various parts of the country mostly from busy towns between January and December, 2016.
The months of September, October and November registered the highest numbers of vehicle theft with each recording 71, 53 and 63, and 53 cases respectively.
Similarly, December, September and June are the months in which most motorcycles were stolen registering 68, 60 and 42 cases in turn.
In 2013, the number of motor vehicles either stolen or robbed were 670 according to police statictics.
Police crime reports indicated that in the first six months of 2014, the number of stolen cars increased to 792.
Although there was a slight reduction of stolen cars in 2015, cases of vehicles stolen are still high and recovering them has become more difficult as the criminals have become craftier in their illicit trade.
Interpol observed that 36 cars and 33 motorcycles were stolen in January while 40 motorcycles and 36 cars were stolen in February, 42 cars and 22 motorcycles were stolen in March, 35 vehicles and 15 motorcycles were stolen in April, 53 vehicles and 10 motorcycles were stolen in May whereas 41 cars and 42 motorcycles were stolen in June.
According to the records, 303 cars and 233 motocycles were stolen between July and December.
Mr Kasingye said most of the vehicles were stolen from parking lots and washing bays with or without the knowledge of guards and workers.
"In most cases, the security guards and some of the workers of these parking yards are involved. We warn the public not to trust any washing bay or parking yard with their vehicles," Mr Kasingye said.
He said in other instances, vehicles were picked from streets especially bars, night clubs, supermarkets, and outside offices.
"In all these cases, there was one case where a vehicle was stolen at gunpoint. Majority of the vehicles are stolen by surprise for instance criminals threatening drivers with machetes or breaking windows," he said.
Regarding recovery of stolen vehicles, Mr Kasingye noted that the rate is very minimal with only seven cars recovered last year.
As a means of handling the issue, he urged the public to be vigilant while parking , hiring drivers and lending out their cars.
Police have also identified a serial car robber as a one Kasozi based in Bukoba side of Tanzania whose arrest and expatriation has proved difficult as he usually pays off complainants with huge sums of money.
He is said to have stolen 23 Elfu Isuzu trucks in Mbarara District last year.
On dealing with illegal entrants, Interpol has deported 38 Ugandans from Norway, Turkey, Rwanda and Kenya.
Records indicate that 33 illegal entrants were arrested from Uganda and deported back to their respective countries.
Nearly 40kg of heroin and cocaine were seized during Interpol operations in Uganda.
Of these, Brian Mwesigye, a Ugandan, had 1.5kg of heroin and was arrested on February 1, Godfrey Mukwayi, a Tanzania was held with 2.6kg, Ronald Zziwa, also a Ugandan, was arrested with 8kg of heroine whereas Jack Nakalema was arrested with 32kg of cocaine.