Sabah cops smash gang of tech savvy car thieves

Sabah police chief Omar Mammah (centre) showing the hacking system used by the car thieves. Third from left is Kota Kinabalu police chief Habibi Majinji.

KOTA KINABALU: Police have smashed a gang using computerised hacking equipment to unlock vehicles before driving off in them.

They arrested four members of the gang, aged 32 to 40, believed to have stolen 11 four-wheel drive vehicles since early May, worth about RM1 million.

They are looking for a fifth suspect, a Sarawakian identified only as Tommy, aged 43.

Sabah police chief Omar Mammah said it was the first time that police in the state had come across thieves using electronic hacking systems to break into cars.

“The gang used a computerised device to disable the vehicles’ locking systems and alarm,” he said, adding that those arrested comprised a Sabahan and three men from Johor and Selangor.

Sabah police chief Omar Mammah showing a photo of Tommy, wanted in connection with the car theft syndicate.

Omar told reporters at the Sabah police contingent headquarters in Kepayan today the arrests followed a report by a woman that her car was missing from the Likas Women and Children’s Hospital parking lot here on May 16.

The woman posted a picture of her car on social media.

Police apprehended the first suspect as he was getting into a vehicle that looked similar to the woman’s car here three days later. The car had false registration number plates.

“Following that, we tracked down the other suspects. Five of the stolen vehicles were recovered from Sarawak,” Omar said.

Police seized the hacking equipment, smart keys and other tools used to break into the vehicles.

He believed that police would be able to trace other missing vehicles with the arrest of Tommy.

Omar said three of the suspects had previous convictions.