KUALA LUMPUR: Audis, BMWs and Mercedes-Benz, many valued at over A$100,000, are being stolen in Victoria suburbs in Australia and making their way to Malaysia. Here, they are shipped to other Asian countries, the Middle-East and Europe, according to the Herald Sun.
“The trade extends as far as the supply chain.”
“Malaysia is a staging post.”
Cars bought from youth gangs, according to sources, are also used in faked smashes to rip-off insurance companies.
Often, the cars are insured with multiple companies to maximize “profits” from faked smashes. The “profits” are then invested in other criminal activities like drug trafficking.
The modus operandi sees a thief, including from youth gangs like Apex, making off with the car from a street or a home and selling it for between A$1,000 and A$3,000 to another criminal. These criminals have contacts in the wrecking industry.
The Comanchero motorcycle gang is also involved.
Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce executive director Geoff Gwilym said “major king-pins” were operating through a large network of youths.
“They will say, `I need an S-Class Mercedes by Sunday and off they (the thieves) go,” said Gwilym.
The cars are then disassembled by rogue operators for their engines and gearboxes which are then crammed into shipping containers. The trade at this stage brings in tens of thousands of dollars. The remainder of the cars, the shells, are crushed and sold to metal merchants for more “profit”.
The risks of exporting stolen car parts alongside legitimate ones are minimal, according to industry observers who spoke to the newspaper.
“We (Australians) are not that concerned about what’s out-going (in containers). We are more worried about drugs and weapons coming in,” one source said.
“Malaysia has emerged as a particularly attractive option because of an inexhaustible appetite for vehicles.”
National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council executive director Ray Carroll said that Malaysian buyers even visit Melbourne to try and buy cars legitimately. “There’s demand in Malaysia for the cars.”
“The loosely regulated cash economy in Australia helps. It changes the game when there’s a threat to safety.”
He cited the case of a north suburban father-and-son team who stole cars worth almost A$1 million but did no jail time.
“The penalties dished out to these guys was nine hours community service for every vehicle stolen,” said Gwilym. “We are highly complimentary of the police and highly critical of the sentence.”
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said that “the vehicle crime squad continues to investigate serious organized crime relating to disposal points of stolen high end vehicles”.