Ajman: A gang who smuggled stolen rental cars out of the country to sell abroad have been busted by Ajman Police, it was announced on Tuesday.
In total 83 cars had been stolen from rental offices in the emirate, 55 were recovered, 17 of them from inside the country and 38 from outside.
Twelve men of various nationalities have been arrested in connection to the crimes, while a further two are on the run outside the UAE.
Major General Shaikh Sultan bin Abdullah Al Nuaimi, Commander-in-Chief of Ajman Police announced the details of the operation entitled (The Darkness Containers) on Tuesday in an online press conference.
The cars were kept in containers and registered in the transport documents as household equipment.
In total the estimated value of the cars was Dh6,350,000.
Police have contacted Interpol to help recover the rest of the stolen cars and bring the other two men to justice.
Major General Al Nuaimi said this had been one of the largest and most complex cases to solve due to the gang’s sophistication.
The gang relied on those on visit visas to come in and steal the cars from rental offices.
They then sold them on to other people and left the country, making it difficult for police to track.
Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Saeed, Director of the Criminal Investigation Department, said the crime dated back to December 2019 but the first complaints were registered in January of this year.
The entire operation took three months, he said.
Some of the rental car offices did not report the crime to police because they were unaware of the crimes until they were informed by police.
Suspects included residents and visitors, who had come to the UAE solely to smuggle cars.
A number of car rental shops reported late returns and when they traced the cars by the internal tracker they found they were outside the country.
There were a number of similar complaints from other emirates as well.
A team from CID was formed to investigate.
It was found that the gang was divided into those who rent the car, a second group who sell the cars at half its price and then a third group that ships the cars in containers disguised as household equipment.
Police contacted shipping companies to return the containers.
The port was informed of the ruse and refused to accept any further containers containing ‘household goods’ until the investigation was complete.
The cars were found in the port of a neighbouring Arab country.
Major General Al Nuaimi praised police efforts and urged the public to report suspicious activity