More than 7 000 stolen cars were crushed by the SA police this year in a move against vehicle theft. Is this the right move?
More than 7 000 stolen cars were crushed by the police in South Africa this year in a move against vehicle theft.
National commissioner Jackie Selebi said in February the police would no longer auction impounded vehicles and would instead destroy them if they were not claimed. About 7 000 vehicles were crushed between February and the end of November. The North West police announced this week that it had crushed 150 vehicles since August.
Police spokesman Martin Aylward told CARtoday.com some of the vehicles were incorporated into the police force based on certain criteria.
“If we confiscate a vehicle and its numbers have been altered to such an extent that it can’t be proved who the lawful owner is and it is economically viable to fix the vehicle then it is forfeited to the state and becomes a regulation 80 (6) vehicle.
“If is not economically viable to fix the car as it has had too many parts removed or damaged then it is crushed.
“A vehicle is also forfeited to the state if the owner is traced, but he or she fails to fetch the car. An owner usually has 30 days in which to fetch their vehicle unless they notify us that they need more time. But if the owner does not want to the vehicle or is unwilling to fetch the vehicle and it is economically viable to run it then it is added to the police fleet,” Aylward said.
The spokesman said if the vehicle was not roadworthy or was too damaged it was crushed. They also crushed old police vehicles.
Selebi said vehicle theft syndicates used the auctions to get legal documents for stolen cars. “Each vehicle sold on an auction is accompanied by legitimate documentation. Once the vehicle is purchased and the documentation is in possession of unscrupulous dealers, a similar vehicle is often stolen and the identification numbers changed to suit the papers,” Selebi said.
He said the vehicle bought at an auction was often discarded and replaced by the hijacked or stolen vehicle. This practice is known as duplication and makes up about half the vehicle theft in this country. “We should avoid a situation in which we inadvertently assist criminals when we circulate (such vehicles),” he said.
Do you agree with the move to crush stolen vehicles rather than auction them?