Felda set­tle­ments in Pa­hang main tar­get of syn­di­cates

New Straits Times - - News -

KUANTAN: The low prices of se­cond-hand three-tonne lor­ries have prompted Felda set­tlers across the state to buy the ve­hi­cles to trans­port oil palm.

State Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion Depart­ment chief Se­nior As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Oth­man Nanyan said there was an in­crease in the num­ber of stolen lor­ries from around the coun­try end­ing up in plan­ta­tions.

He said the po­lice last month crip­pled a four-mem­ber syn­di­cate and re­cov­ered 12 stolen ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing a Mit­subishi Pa­jero four-wheel drive.

“The set­tlers were at­tracted by the low prices of­fered for the lor­ries, which in­cluded Dai­hatsu Delta, Isuzu, Hi­com Perkasa and Mit­subishi mod­els. Since there was de­mand from cer­tain set­tle­ments, it prompted the syn­di­cate to sell the ve­hi­cles there.

“The syn­di­cate busted last month has been sell­ing ve­hi­cles for be­tween RM20,000 and RM30,000, but the mem­bers are new in the il­licit busi­ness.

“Checks re­vealed that the lor­ries were stolen in Wangsa Maju and Se­ta­pak in Kuala Lumpur; Jin­jang in Se­lan­gor, and Bera and Men­takab in Pa­hang.”

He said peo­ple deal­ing with stolen prop­erty could be de­tained un­der the Pe­nal Code.

He ad­vised set­tlers not to buy or use stolen ve­hi­cles, and re­minded them to lodge a po­lice re­port if they no­ticed in­di­vid­u­als try­ing to sell such ve­hi­cles.

Bera po­lice chief Deputy Su­per­in­ten­dent Man­sor Sam­sudin, whose of­fi­cers crip­pled a ma­jor syn­di­cate in March with the seizure of 24 lor­ries at Felda Ke­ma­sul, Ben­tong, and Felda Bukit Mendi, Bera, said the syn­di­cate mem­bers had al­tered the chas­sis num­bers of the ve­hi­cles.

“The syn­di­cate used a grinder to al­ter the en­gine num­ber be­fore send­ing the lor­ries to the set­tle­ments. We got a break when one of the mid­dle­men was nabbed. He led po­lice to where the stolen lor­ries were sold.

“Felda set­tlers should never be tempted and if they come across such deals. They should con­tact the po­lice or Road Trans­port Depart­ment (RTD) to ver­ify the de­tails of the ve­hi­cles,” he said, adding that buy­ers of­ten as­sumed they were get­ting a bar­gain when, in fact, they were land­ing them­selves in trou­ble.

A po­lice source said ve­hi­cle theft syn­di­cates were smart as they would hire mid­dle­men or some­one known to the set­tlers to ne­go­ti­ate deals.

“Be­sides tam­per­ing with the chas­sis num­bers, syn­di­cates will also spray false pri­vate com­pany names on the ve­hi­cle door to con­vince buy­ers that the lor­ries be­longed to cer­tain com­pa­nies that failed to ser­vice their bank loans. The fake reg­is­tra­tion num­bers usu­ally be­long to mo­tor­cy­cles.

“Pa­hang is the tar­get as it is the largest state with some 115 Felda schemes, and these set­tle­ments have be­come the pre­ferred places (to sell stolen lor­ries) due to its ru­ral lo­ca­tion. Fur­ther­more, the lor­ries will be used only within the set­tle­ments, and ev­ery­one knows each other well.”

He said in most cases, the mid­dle­men were fa­mil­iar or had knowl­edge of the set­tle­ments as it was un­likely for some­one to sud­denly turn up with a stolen ve­hi­cle and try­ing to sell it.

“For ex­am­ple, when in­di­vid­ual A buys the lorry, he will tell oth­ers and then, when in­di­vid­ual B is in­ter­ested, A will share the con­tact de­tails.

“Such deal­ings have been around for quite some time and still ex­ist in cer­tain es­tates,” he said, adding that mod­ern gad­gets (smart­phones) and so­cial me­dia could play an im­por­tant role in pre­vent­ing such fraud.

Lor­ries trans­port­ing oil palm fruits in Felda Bukit Mendi near Bera yes­ter­day.

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