The Lagos State Police Command has arrested 20 suspected members of robbery gangs which specialised in snatching vehicles in the metropolis.
Recovered from the suspects, among whom was a 60-year-old hunter and a Benin Republic citizen, were 23 vehicles, 12 arms, 54 ammunition, number-plates, telephones and wrist watches that were reportedly stolen.
Parading the suspects, yesterday, at the Command headquarters, Ikeja, the Commissioner of Pollice, Mr. Umar Manko, said one of the vehicles, a Toyota Camry, was trailed to a building somewhere around Ajah through the tracking device, where the suspects were arrested while attempting to dismantle the device.
The Benin Republic suspect, who gave his name as Azeez Abiodun, said he belonged to a nine-man gang which specialised in snatching vehicles during traffic hitches.
The 24-year-old suspect, who claimed to have joined the gang last year, said the type of cars his gang usually snatched was determined by the choice of the receivers.
He said: “Yes, I belong to a robbery gang that specialised in snatching cars. What we do is that wherever there is ‘hold up’(gridlock) we will storm the area on motorcycles and begin to shoot.
”In the process, motorists would flee the scene, abandoning their vehicles. At that point, we will make our choice of vehicles and zoom off. At other times, we will stand by the roadside, pretending to be waiting for commercial buses and when the right time comes, we will strike.
”We know most of the areas where there are always traffic and we focus mainly on Ikorodu area. ‘Most times, we sell the cars for as low as N100,000 or N200,000 and share the proceed among ourselves. At other times, our receiver would pay us N50,000. This happens if we bring a car he did not demand.
”But we make quick money from phones and laptops because they are easier to sell. We sell them for as low as N3,000 or N4,000, depending on the type. The money realised from phones is also shared among us. But most times, we hide some of the stolen phones and secretly sell them to make more money because our superior sometimes give us stipends.”
How the bubble burst
The bubble, according to Manko, burst following a report at Ikorodu division by a motorist whose Toyota Sienna Space bus was snatched at gun- point. Consequently, operatives from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, swung into action and arrested the nine suspects at different locations in the state while the receiver, one Kola Oti, a resident of Ibafo, in Ogun State, was said to be on the run.
Recovered from the nine-man gang, according to Manko, were the stolen Toyota Sienna with number-plate GJ 565 EKY; a Toyota Corolla with number-plate RSH 689 AE; a Honda Accord, number-plate LSD 537 AM; two unregistered Toyota Camry and Odyssey, three single barrel locally-made short guns, 24 live cartridges and one expended cartridge.
According to Manko, the suspects would be charged to court soon. Meantime, the police in Lagos also foiled attempt by a driver of a new generation bank to withdraw money, using the ATM card of a customer of another bank.
When the driver was searched, he was reportedly found with 19 ATM cards belonging to customers of a new generation bank. Also found on him, was a cash of N652,000 which he had allegedly withdrawn using the ATM cards in his possession.
His arrest, Manko said was made about 8.30 p.m. last Thursday, following an alarm raised at the Ogba branch of the bank.
Manko said: “On July 26, around 8:30pm, there was a distress call that there was commotion at GTB, Ogba branch. On getting there, the suspect, Dare Oladunjoye, was seen with 19 ATM cards. He was arrested and at the time of his arrest, he had cashed N652,000. The matter is under investigation.”
Oladunjoye claimed the ATM cards were given to him by their owners. He claimed that: “I lent the owners money and whenever I lend out money, I usually collect their ATM cards and their Personal Identification Numbers. I release them after they would have paid me. If they did not pay me back, I would use their ATM cards to withdraw money from their accounts.