The Zone 2 Police Command, Onikan, Lagos, says 26 cars stolen in the last eight months in the Oworonshoki, Bariga and Somolu areas of Lagos State have been recovered by operatives of the Zonal Intervention Squad.
The command said the cars were stolen in the communities by members of a syndicate, who usually sneaked into the neighbourhoods with master keys to open cars, adding that the vehicles were sold to buyers in Ondo State.
Arrested members of the syndicate are Joshua Adeleke, Moses Ofoke, Oluseye Arokoyo, Ahmed Ali, Folorunsho Ojowuro and Samuel Bolanle.
The police said it recovered 13 Toyota Camry, three Toyota Corolla, one Toyota Sienna, one Nissan Sunny and one Nissan Almera.
Others are three Honda Accord, two Toyota Sienna, one Nissan Pathfinder and one Mazda 626.
The Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of the command, Adamu Ibrahim, said the police got information about the gang on October 6, 2017.
He said, “We learnt the robbers snatched a Toyota Camry big daddy from Lagos around 2.45pm on that day and were heading towards Sango Ota, Ogun State.
“A team of ZIS operatives was detailed to track down the hoodlums and three of them were arrested. They confessed that they specialised in removing vehicles by roadsides and that they operated in the Bariga, Oworonshoki and Somolu areas of Lagos State.”
The suspects, who were paraded at the ZIS office at Obada Oko, Abeokuta, on Wednesday, said difficult situations of life pushed them into crime.
The leader of the gang, Adeleke, said he took 11 cars from the Oworonshoki and Bariga areas between March and October 2017, adding that he sold them for between N100,000 and N300,000.
He said, “I started doing this job after I lost my job as a driver at a company on Victoria Island, Lagos. I was sacked because I stole N200,000. A friend introduced me to this work in March 2017. I have stolen 11 vehicles in Oworonshoki and Bariga.
“A man made a master key for me and my gang members. We bought the key for N2,000. What we do is to go out by 2am. We open cars parked by roadsides and start the vehicles with the master key. We don’t rob at gunpoint.
“We send the cars to Ondo State where we have ready buyers. The first car we took to Ondo State was a Nissan product, which we sold for N100,000. We also sold a Toyota Camry for N200,000.
“We were four members in the gang; my wife does not know this is what I do for a living.”
Another member of the gang, Ali, an indigene of Ogun State, said he became a member after Adeleke assisted him with money.
The 23-year-old barber explained that he followed the gang leader to Ondo twice to sell some of the stolen vehicles.
The third suspect, Ofoke, an indigene of Izzi, Ebonyi State, said he joined the gang after he lost his job as a private security guard.
One of the receivers of the stolen cars, Ojowuro, said he bought seven cars from the suspects, adding that while he resold some for profit, he converted the rest to private use.
The Igbokoda, Ondo State indigene, denied knowing that the vehicles were stolen until he was arrested by the police.
“They told me that the vehicles were seized from smugglers by customs. One of the boys said he was a soldier and he wore military camouflage to deceive me. The cars I bought for N100,000, I sold for N250,000. The ones I bought for N300,000 I sold for N400,000,” he said.
The AIG said the suspects would be soon be arraigned.
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