ROBBERY IN THE CITY: Vehicle theft on the rise

News

Police data show that car thieves are at their most active between 8pm and midnight

Growing in tandem with the number of new cars that appear on the road is the number of cars that are stolen. In a way, new models have inspired buyers in addition to thieves, who after all only want to offer new cars to potential buyers at a much lower price.

The Metropolitan Police Operation Centre’s Car and Motorcycle Robbery Prevention and Suppression Unit says that last year in Bangkok alone, 273 passenger cars and 585 pickups were reported stolen, along with 3,703 motorcycles.

Those first two figures are higher than for the previous year. In 2003, only 264 passenger cars and 530 pickups were stolen. But more motorcyclists suffered that year, with 4,883 motorbike thefts.

Isuzu remains the top choice of pickup thieves, with 185 stolen in 2004, compared with 173 in 2003.

Running a close second is Toyota, with 183 of that company’s pickups stolen last year, 43 more than in 2003. That may be bad news for Toyota pickup owners, but it does send a clear signal that the new designs have won over the public.

Trailing in third place is Nissan, with 107 trucks stolen last year, two more than in 2003.

Mitsubishi comes fourth, with 53 trucks stolen, a notable decrease from the 58 stolen in 2003.

And the category of “other” makes and models saw 57 stolen last year, one more than in 2003.

For passenger cars, Toyota is the champion theft-wise, which corresponds to its market share. Toyota racked up a grand total of 116 passenger cars stolen last year, 16 more than the year before.

Trailing behind is Honda, with 44 cars stolen, actually three fewer than in 2003. Some used-car dealers say some bad incidents in Thailand involving Honda in recent years have lowered demand somewhat for this otherwise-premium Japanese brand.

Mitsubishi comes in third, with 29 cars stolen, four fewer than in 2003. And Nissan is the fourth choice of car thieves, with 15 cars stolen last year, four more than 2003’s 11.

The “other” category saw a combined loss of 66 cars.

Most cars – 474 last year – are stolen between 8pm and midnight.

The second most active time for car thieves is from 1-4am, when 162 cars were stolen last year.

The third most popular period is 4-8pm, when 106 vehicles were nicked last year.

Notably, most cars are taken while parked right in front of owners’ houses.

The second most popular spot is from on the street, and coming in third is parking lots.

Police statistics for 2003 show that most cars spirited away that year were parked on the street.

Vichien Norasing, 27, was one of last year’s victims. “I went to a friend’s birthday party in the Lang Suan area and parked out on the street.

“Who would’ve thought it would tempt anyone? It had no special accessories,” said the young man.

Luckily, it was a company car and covered by insurance.

“Still, that incident caused me to be passed over for a pay raise, because I was using the car outside of work. What I learned is that if you’re going out at night, it’s better to take a cab. Then you don’t need to worry about car theft or police questions,” he said.

Some have noticed an increase in reports of police killing car thieves. They believe this might have something to do with the only slight increase in the number of vehicles stolen last year, compared with the much larger jump in vehicle sales.

What all of this says, though, is that car owners should fully protect their property.

Remember: you had to save up for a long time for your car, but a thief needs only five minutes to take it away from you forever.

Thanadol Rila

The Nation

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