THE Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) yesterday reiterated its warning to the public to check with them first before buying 2nd-hand SUVs and other luxury vehicles or they could end up with stolen MVs whose registration papers belong to total-wreck vehicles being sold by some unscrupulous insurance companies to organized car theft gangs in the country.
“Please check with us the records of the 2nd-hand SUVs and other vehicles being offered to you for a very low price since they could probably be stolen ones and you will end up losing your hard-earned money to the suspects and your vehicle will be confiscated too,” said PNP-HPG director, Chief Superintendent Antonio N. Gardiola Jr.
Gardiola said they need all the cooperation from lawmakers and the insurance commission to prevent syndicates from restoring ‘total-wreck’ vehicles back into life with the use of parts and accessories of stolen vehicles.
The PNP-HPG director issued the warning amid the recovery of several stolen SUVs which turned out to be ‘total wreck’ vehicles fitted with the dismantled parts and chassis numbers of stolen vehicles and given the Land Transportation Office (LTO) registration papers of the supposed to be beyond economical repair vehicles.
Many 2nd-hand car traders said the existence of some ‘bad eggs’ in the LTO who allow the registration of stolen motor vehicles including ‘total wreck’ vehicles should be quickly addressed by the government. Records will show that many innocent people have suffered humiliation after they bought motor vehicles which turned out to have been fraudulently registered with the LTO.
There were also complaints that some persons have acquired motor vehicles which turned out to have falsified LTO Official Receipts and Certificate of Registration, meaning that the LTO papers are genuine but the entries are not since they have been altered by the syndicate.
They also called on proper authorities to immediately confiscate the registration papers of ‘total-wreck’ vehicles or those beyond economical repair after being involved in major road crashes.
Officials said carnapping syndicates are known for buying the registration papers of ‘total-wreck’ vehicles especially if these are Sports Utility Vehicles and other high-end motor vehicles.
Once the syndicate has acquired the OR and CR of the ‘total-wreck’ vehicles, they will then steal an SUV with the same color, model and type. The car theft syndicate will then bring the vehicle to a clandestine motor shop where its chassis and engine numbers and other identifying marks will be erased and later replaced with the numbers of the ‘total-wreck’ SUV they bought from an insurance company.
The PNP-HPG leadership calls the practice ‘lipat-bahay’ and believe that the illegal act can be stopped if the government will stop insurance companies from selling ‘total-wreck’ vehicles and go after insurance companies involved in the malpractice. HPG Special Operations Division-Task Force Limbas commander, Supt. Joel Manuel A. Ana said they have investigated scores of cases of SUVs which look as if they were almost brand-new when records show that they became ‘total-wreck’ after figuring in high-speed crashes.
PNP-HPG Motor Vehicle Clearance Division chief, Senior Supt. Richard F. de la Rosa told the Journal Group that ‘total-wreck’ vehicles can not be registered with the HPG, thus, car theft syndicates equip them with fraudulent registration papers before being sold to the public. “These car theft rings don’t seek HPG clearances for their vehicles knowing we can detect a stolen vehicle instantly,” de la Rosa said.
Last July 9, SOD-Task Force Limbas operatives received information that a white Toyota Land Cruiser is being ‘cannibalized’ inside a warehouse in Barangay San Pablo in San Simon, Pampanga. The SOD-Task Force Limbas got the information that some parts of the white Land Cruiser have been already transferred to a similar SUV. Acting on the information, the HPG operatives went to the Sun Player Industrial warehouse in Bgy. San Pablo where they spotted knocked down major parts and the cut chassis assembly of a Land Cruiser.
A series of follow-up operations led in the recovery of several dismantled parts of a Land Cruiser said to have been transferred to a similar SUV with plate no. POU-126 owned by a Filipino-Chinese national and kept in another house in Sta. Cruz, Manila. The recovered Land Cruiser turned out to the same SUV with plate no. PEI-116 which was stolen at gunpoint by unidentified gunmen from another Fil-Chinese national in front of the E-Games in Quezon Avenue on August 5, 2015. The victim was badly hurt in the attack while a responding security guard was shot dead by the M-16 wielding suspects.
A macro-etching examination conducted by personnel of the PNP Crime Laboratory’s Physical Investigation Division showed the following: that the SUV’s engine number was replaced with engine no. 1VD-0101248; that the metal surface where the chassis number is normally located was cut and replaced with a piece of metal with serial no. JTMHV05J805017363, hence the restoration of the original chassis number is not possible; and the absence of any letter and number other than Vehicle Identification Number JTMHV09J95001288 located at the left upper portion of the SUV’s dashboard.
Ana explained that the findings showed that the engine and chassis numbers of the subject SUV were tampered although its Vehicle Identification Number was not.
The official said it appeared that a car theft syndicate stole the vehicle and sold it to another person which is in possession of a total-wreck SUV. “We have been investigating similar cases and want the full cooperation of insurance companies, the LTO and people who have brought such vehicles in our ongoing probe,” Ana said.
The illicit practice has prompted the PNP-HPG to renew its proposal to bar insurance companies from re-selling motor vehicles rendered total wreck as a result of road crashes as the practice is being taken advantage of carjacking syndicates to register stolen vehicles with the help of some rogue public officials including those from the LTO.
“We are batting for a legislation that will make it unlawful for insurance companies to re-sell totally wrecked motor vehicles together with their registration documents. We believe that this law, if enacted will greatly deter car theft in the country,” said the PNP-HPG director.