Mon | Dec 5, 2016

Track all vehicles at the ports - Ford calls for use of global tracking system to identify imported stolen cars

Published:Saturday | January 3, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Senior Superintendent Cornwall Bigga Ford, head of the Flying Squad. - File

With hundreds of stolen motor vehicles from countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada flooding the island, one high-ranking police investigator wants the Government to acquire a computerised system that would help local law enforcement personnel flag these vehicles, on arrival.

Senior Superintendent (SSP) Cornwall Bigga Ford, who headed the elite police Flying Squad, says the VINHEAD system is already being used by local insurance companies and scores of entities that conduct motor vehicle evaluation.

Explaining how the system works, Ford said the identification number assigned to a motor vehicle by its manufacturer is fed into a computer and it can tell you if the vehicle is a stolen vehicle anywhere in the world.

Only the police not using it [in Jamaica], Ford lamented.

Flooded stolen vehicles

The recommendation by Ford comes as he revealed that the nations roadways are flooded with vehicles that have been reported stolen in several countries.

According to him, they are brought into the island undetected by criminal networks through very elaborate and sophisticated schemes and later sold, sometimes to unsuspecting buyers.

As an example, he pointed to the case of the 10 high-end motor vehicles reported stolen in Canada that were recovered in Jamaica from persons in managerial positions.

They came through Customs and everything ... . We have the bill of laden, all the fraudulent documents for all of them, Ford told The Gleaner.

However, he said these stolen vehicles are now being red-flagged by the insurance companies that are utilising the VINHEAD system but are powerless to do anything resulting in huge financial losses for persons who unknowingly purchase them.

They will simply not insure the vehicle and tell you to check with the police or go back to the person you purchased the vehicle from, Ford explained.

So if you have your vehicle for four years and you were insuring it and driving it and when you go back [to re-insure it] a red flag comes up, and when we check the system it is a stolen vehicle, da vehicle deh park, he underscored.

With what he described as the lucrative stolen motor vehicle industry raking millions of dollars for criminals, the veteran crime-fighter said that giving the police this system would have a major impact on their investigative capabilities.

The private sector gave us a trial run [of the system] for three months and we were able to do some good work with it, Ford revealed.

Proposal to Government

SSP Ford indicated that he has already made recommendations to his superiors and the Government about the benefits of acquiring the system and said he believes his proposal is being favourably considered.

Last year, the Flying Squad recovered 42 motor vehicles, valued at $31.3 million, which were reported stolen. though he conceded that this was a drop in the bucket when compared with the number of vehicles reported stolen in Jamaica each year.