Police arrest fake Inspector, 26 car snatchers in Rivers

The Rivers State Police Command has reported the apprehension of 26 suspected car thieves, which includes five individuals with prior convictions, following the dismantling of a syndicate engaged in the theft and sale of vehicles to buyers beyond the state’s borders.

Authorities revealed that the arrests came in response to numerous reports of car thefts, some of which involved armed assaults on victims both in and outside Port Harcourt.

In addition to the apprehensions, a fraudulent individual posing as a police inspector was captured, with three high-end vehicles recovered from his possession.

Commissioner of Police for the state, Olatunji Disu, made these known while presenting the suspects and the seized vehicles to the press following a briefing at the command headquarters in Port Harcourt.

Disu expressed satisfaction with the arrests, stressing that the apprehension of Chidozie Anthony Onyekwe and Kelechi Uzogwe, who were identified as leaders of the syndicate, was a result of the command’s quick deployment of its tactical unit and investigators.

He stated, “today, I’m very happy to inform you that about 26 suspects who specialise in stealing vehicles, robbing motorists, and snatching their cars have been arrested.

“Our greatest joy is the arrest of Chidozie Anthony Onyekwe and Kelechi Uzogwe. Chidozie is the leader of persons who come into Rivers State to steal cars. Not only did he come in here, but he also trained his men well before bringing them to come and perpetrate their crimes here. He is linked to all the other suspects arrested at one time or the other over this same crime of stealing cars.

“At the same time, Kelechi Uzogwe is an expert in removing trackers from vehicles. Almost all the vehicles stolen from Rivers State must pass through Kelechi for him to remove the trackers for them. He is also a mechanic and rewires at the same time.

“Most of these cars stolen are taken to Anambra, Kano, and some find their way outside the country. The cars were taken to Mgbuka-Obosi, Onitsha in Obosi in Anambra State where they are cut to pieces and sold as scraps.”

The CP further disclosed, “in total, 79 stolen vehicles have been linked to these arrested suspects. The funny thing is that most of these suspects met while they were in the Correctional Centre. About five of them are ex-convicts.”

Explaining how the suspects steal and move the vehicles, Disu mentioned that they possess master keys which have been recovered from them.

He added, “how do they drive these cars out of town? They quickly convert them to commercial vehicles, go to motor parks, pick up passengers, and drive out of town with passengers. Almost all the cars recovered have their trackers removed by Kelechi.

“We have for you two sets of people who wait for them to receive the cars, buy the vehicles immediately, and take them away.

“Some of the receivers even come into town with them, tell them the kind of cars they want them to steal. They steal and hand them to the receivers who pay them off to seal the business.”

CP Disu also disclosed the arrest of a fake police Inspector and the recovery of three posh cars from him, stating that the suspect was a former Police Sergeant dismissed after being indicted in a kidnap case in 2021.

He stated, “the command commenced an investigation in response to a report filed on the 11th of August 2023, by one Fibika Kingsley that his Lexus EX330 had been stolen at gunpoint along Agip road by five gunmen.’’

“The investigations led to the arrest of one Monday Igbali, aged 43, a native of Okwuzi in the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA of Rivers State.

“He is a former Police Sergeant who was dismissed after being indicted in a kidnapping case in 2021.

“Since his dismissal, he has continued to parade himself as a police officer, even claiming to be an Inspector of Police, a rank he did not attain before his dismissal.

“He works with a gang of five, with four gang members still at large.

“He has robbed a total of nine cars and sold them between N1.3m and N2.5m each. He was arrested on the 8th of March 2024, at his home in Chokocho, Etche after the police conducted due surveillance following investigations. We have recovered three cars from him: a Lexus 330, Lexus IS250, and Toyota Highlander.”

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