The Rapid Response Squad of the Lagos State Police Command has arrested two suspected members of a car-snatching syndicate.
The RRS officials were said to have recovered eight stolen vehicles from the suspects, who reportedly stole vehicles in different parts of the state and transferred them to Abeokuta, Ogun State, where they repainted and resold them.
PUNCH Metro learnt that some members of the syndicate had stolen a Toyota Corolla 2004 model belonging to one Mrs. Olaitan Lawal, who was attending a church programme in the Ikeja area of the state at about 5pm on Thursday.
Lawal was said to have alerted the police through the 112 emergency line.
The police were reported to have tracked the vehicle down to a compound in Kobape, Abeokuta, the same night, leading to the arrest of the two suspects.
Other vehicles recovered by the police were Mercedes Benz 230, Acura MDX, Murano, Volkswagen Passat, Renault, Pontiac and Toyota Camry.
The suspects – Samuel Adebeshin and Adeyemi Kamoru – in their statements to the police allegedly confessed to the crime.
Adebeshin, who has two wives and seven children, said he built four houses from the proceeds of his shady business.
The 56-year-old explained that he only received stolen cars and resold them after repainting and changing their number plates.
He said, “I have been in auto business for 30 years. I know all the cars brought to me were stolen, but I thought I was safe in my compound.
“About two years ago, I met Kamoru and he became the middleman between the car thieves and me. He introduced me to one Alhaji Tajudeen and one Honourable, who he claimed were car dealers.
“Later, I discovered they were car thieves from Lagos. At this point, I couldn’t back out from the deal. Anytime they brought cars to me, I gave Kamoru money to pay them because I didn’t want people to identify me with them. In 2014, I bought a Honda Accord from them at N300,000 but its market value was around N900,000 then. I resold it at N450,000.
“On Thursday, at about 5pm, Kamoru called me that our boys had brought another Toyota Corolla for sale. By this time, I wasn’t at home, so I instructed my first son to open the gate for them. The car was parked on my premises, awaiting the usual refurbishment and repainting.
“However, at about 12.30am on Friday, a team of policemen came to my house and asked me to give an account of the car. That was when I confessed to them and took them to Kamoru’s residence where he was arrested.”
The accomplice, Kamoru, 50, said the eight vehicles were stolen at different locations in Lagos, adding that poverty pushed him to the crime.
He said, “I met Adebeshin some years back. Before now, I assisted him to ‘cross’ vehicles from Benin to Nigeria. Anytime the boys went for an operation and succeeded, they would call me, and I would inform him that we’ve got another car. I would drive the car to his premises in Kobape, where buyers usually come to buy them. In any deal we do, they paid me N30,000. It was poverty and frustration that led me to this crime.”
The Lagos State police spokesperson, SP Dolapo Badmos, confirmed the arrests, adding that the suspects were helping the police with investigations.
She added that efforts were ongoing to arrest the other members of the syndicate.