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Hi-tech gangs on prowl for ECMs! How safe is your luxury car in Delhi?

The technique adopted by the auto-theft gangs is so hi-tech that they can take away any vehicle they lay their hands on, especially those which are not being monitored constantly, with ease.

Abhishek Tiwari | New Delhi |

As the Delhi Police is dealing with the challenge to tackle the street crimes, an increase in the number of vehicle theft in the National Capital has become a cause of concern for the citizens.

The data on the number of vehicle thefts taken place in Delhi are frightening. As many as six vehicles are stolen every day in the city. The gangs involved in the stealing of vehicles mostly target luxury vehicles for a handsome return.

According to the police, many such gangs are active in the Delhi-NCR. They steal luxury vehicles and dispose of them in other states. The technique adopted by them is so hi-tech that they can take away any vehicle they lay their hands on, especially those which are not being monitored constantly, with ease.

A police source said that a gang involved in vehicular theft works in coordination with two different groups. Both the groups assist each other in the process by stealing the engine control module (ECM) of the car first and then, successfully getting away with the stolen luxury vehicle.

An engine control module (ECM), also commonly called an engine control unit (ECU), is a type of electronic control unit that controls a series of actuators on an internal combustion engine to ensure optimal engine performance of a car.

The modus operandi
The modus operandi used by the gang to steal luxury cars is that they first start with one group carrying out the stealing process of the ECM of the vehicle.

The group, which steals the ECM, obtains all the information about the make and model of the vehicle in advance and steals it overnight. After this, the ECM is handed over to the second group. The second group gets the keys of the car with the help of the stolen ECM.

Later, they set a target to execute their plan. First, they replace the ECM of their target car with the stolen ECM, and with the help of their duplicate key, abscond with the vehicle eventually.

According to the police, this information was given by a gang, which was apprehended by the police with over 100 ECMs a couple of weeks ago.
Disposal of vehicles

The northeastern states of the country are generally used for the disposal of the stolen vehicles from Delhi. The vehicle theft gangs also disclosed that they steal vehicles as per order they get from their clients.

The gang gets an order with details of company and model from the client. After stealing the car as per their order, they start the process of preparing documents for the car. Fake documents based on crashed or scrapped vehicles are prepared.

Later, the chassis number and the registration number of the stolen vehicle are replaced with that of the scrapped or crashed vehicle. Along with this, a sale letter of the owner of the scrapped vehicle is also prepared and handed over to the buyer. Through this, they make sure that the stolen vehicle doesn’t gets caught in future.

According to police sources, vehicles are often stolen between 2 am and 4 am since the presence of police on the streets during this period is usually lesser.

The vehicle thieves park stolen vehicles at a secure parking like metro parking before sending them to their buyers.

The stolen vehicles, which are expected to fetch a good price, are sent to the the northeastern states. Some of the stolen cars are taken to Meerut, Mewat, Muzaffarnagar, Muradnagar, Moradabad and Sambhal districts, where they are dismantled to sell out their parts.

Some arrests
A team from the Maidangarhi police station arrested four members of a gang of hi-tech auto thieves identified as Mohammad Sajid, Akash, Munna and Sonu, who were involved in the theft of high-end cars from Delhi after receiving orders from an operator from Bihar.

The police recovered six luxury cars, digital machine for breaking locks in luxury cars, ECMs, car locks and duplicate keys from the accused. The accused disclosed that they used to get Rs 1 lakh for each stolen vehicle.

In another incident, a police team arrested two of such criminals from the Rajendra Nagar area and recovered as many as 100 ECMs. The accused in the case, Abhijeet Pal Singh, Tarun Singh and Mohammad Akram, revealed that they used to steal ECMs on orders and sell them to other gangs at half the price, which is further used for stealing the vehicles.

Safety tips
– Always park your vehicles in a parking lot and install a security alarm before parking
– Installing a gear lock in the car reduces the possibility of theft to a greater extent
– Make sure to install wheel locks for two-wheelers if the vehicle is usually parked on streets at night. Also putting iron chains with locks to help prevent theft.
– Ensure that the number of the car is written on the front and back windshields. It increases the chances of recovery of the vehicle.
– Most importantly, installation of a Global Positioning System (GPS) system in the car helps in tracking a stolen vehicle.
Year-wise statistics of vehicle theft
Year statistics
2019 39,425
2018 46,433
2017 40,972
2016 38,644
2015 32,729
2014 23,384
2013 14,916
(Figures based on the data available up to the year 2019 only.)