Operatives of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the Lagos State Police Command has recovered eight stolen vehicles from the member of a syndicate specializing in trans-border crimes.
Members of the syndicate steal vehicles from Lagos, move them to Ogun from where they are taken to the neighbouring countries for sale.
It was gathered that RRS operatives working on a reported case of stolen Toyota Corolla from where it was parked in Ikeja Business District, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, tracked the vehicle to a car dealer’s compound in Kobape, Abeokuta, Ogun State, on Thursday night.
Investigations revealed that the Toyota Corolla, grey colour, 2004 model with registration number, KRD 759, belonging to Mrs. Olaitan Lawal, was removed from the car park during a church programme in Ikeja, at about 6 p.m. on Thursday before it was found around 1 a.m. on Friday.
According to the owner of the car, “I took my car to the church and I parked it at the space designated for parking. After the church service, I went back to pick my car to go home, but I couldn’t find the car.
“Immediately, I called the Lagos’ emergency line on 112 and I reported to the representative. I also went to Area ‘F’ in Ikeja, to lodge complaint. At the station, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) connected me to the Commander of RRS, Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP Olatunji Disu, as a capable hand to handle the case.
“The DPO also gave me the Commander’s phone number and when I called him, he assured me that my car would be found. By this time, it was around 9 p.m.
”At home, I couldn’t sleep until around, 12.15 a.m. after midnight when I saw the Commander’s call requesting that I describe my car. I gave him, and he told me that he had found my car somewhere in Abeokuta. I couldn’t believe my ears. In about six hours interval, my car was found,” she added.
The RRS’ surveillance team moved to Abeokuta that same night which led to the arrest of two prime suspects who had confessed their connections with the recovered Corolla and seven other stolen cars presently at the RRS headquarters.
The suspects, Samuel Adebeshin, 56, who is the receiver of the stolen vehicles and lives at 13 Kobape Road, Abeokuta, and an accomplice, Adeyemi Kamoru, 50, confessed that the eight vehicles were all stolen at different locations in Lagos.
In his confessional statement, he said: “I have been in auto business for thirty years. I know all these cars brought to me were all stolen cars but I thought I was safe enough here in my compound.”
According to him, “About two years ago, I met Kamoru Adeyemi. He was the middleman between me and the car thieves. He was the one who introduced Alhaji Tajudeen and one honourable, both still at large, to me as car dealers and crossers from Benin Republic. Later on, I discovered they were car snatchers from Lagos. At this point, I couldn’t back out from the deal.
“Anytime they bring cars to me, it was Adeyemi who I gave money to pay them because I didn’t want people to identify me with them,” the suspect stated.
“In 2014, I bought one Honda from them at the rate of N300,000, but its market value was around N900,000. The money was given to Adeyemi. I later sold the car for N400,000 six months after. Also, in the month of January 2015, I bought another Honda Accord 2000 model from them again; I also paid the thieves through our middleman, Adeyemi”.
The suspect, who is married to two wives with seven children, disclosed further that he had built two houses, two flats and an 8-room bungalow from the shady business.
“I built my first house, an 8 room-bungalow in 2006, and the second one, two flats in 2015 where I keep the stolen vehicles as they arrive from Lagos. Once they bring the cars for me, we would repaint them, change their number plates and chassis numbers, and take them to neighbouring countries for sale.
“Occasionally, I sold to people at my car mart, S. Aro Motors situated at 1, Kuto Road, Isabo, Abeokuta. On this penultimate day, at about 5 p.m. on Thursday, Adeyemi called me that our boys have brought another Toyota Corolla for sale. By this time, I wasn’t at home, but I instructed my first son to open the gate for them. The car was parked in my premises, awaiting the usual refurbishment and painting.
“However, at about 12:30 a.m, a team of policemen came to my house and asked me to give account of the Toyota Corolla car. I opened up to them. I told them that all those involved are Adeyemi, Alhaji Tajudeen Bello and Honourable. They brought all those cars to me. I took the Police to Adeyemi’s residence where he was arrested while others were still at large”, he narrated.
On his part, Adeyemi disclosed that poverty pushed him into the crime.
He confessed: “I met Adebeshin some years back. Before now, I do assist him to move vehicles from Benin to Nigeria. Anytime those boys went for operation and succeeded, they will call me, and I will inform him that we have another car. And I will drive the car to his premises in Kobape where buyers usually come to buy them.
“In any deal we do, they paid me N30,000. On this day, one of the car snatchers called me to meet them at Sagamu interchange. On getting there, I found out they have another stolen car.
“I led them from Sagamu interchange to Adebesin’s house. Alhaji drove the stolen car, while Bello drove Pontiac black colour. This was the first time I will be arrested in connection with stolen cars. It was poverty and frustration that led me to this criminal act”.
The other seven vehicles recovered from Adebeshin’s compound were Mercedes Benz 230; Acura MDX; Murano, Volkswagen Passat Station Wagon, Renault, Pontiac and Toyota Camry.
The Lagos State Police Command Public Relations Officer, Dolapo Badmus, said the suspects were helping the police with investigations.
She added that efforts were ongoing to arrest other fleeing members of the syndicate.