LAHORE: Capital City Police Officer Muhammad Amin Wains yesterday handed over 46 cars and 78 motorcycles to the genuine owners.

The city police chief handed over keys of the seized vehicles to the owners at a simple ceremony held at the Police Lines Qila Gujjar. DIG (Operations) Dr Haider Ashraf, DIG (Investigations) Sultan Chaudhry, SSP Hassan Mushtaq Sukhera, and SP Malik Awais were also present on this occasion.  

While talking to reporters on this occasion, the officer said that the anti-vehicle lifting staff smashed three gangs of auto-lifters by arresting their key members during the last couple of weeks. The police seized 46 cars and 78 motorcycles from their possession.

The carriers, lifters, and dealers involved in this racket are already arrested, the CCPO said. “We have noted significant improvement in the working of the AVLS since this branch has been restructured”.

City police department last month completed restructuring of the AVLS, a special wing of the Lahore police to deal with auto-lifting cases. The AVLS officers were equipped with modern technology to track stolen cars, and hunt down organized gangs involved in the booming auto-lifting business.

While addressing the participants on this occasion, the city police chief said that they are going to introduce some “drastic steps” to control auto-lifting in the provincial metropolis.

“We have revisited the police picketing strategy. We are going to introduce an effective mechanism of monitoring and snap-checking at the entry and exit points of the metropolis”. The CCPO said that a high-tech operations room was being set up at the AVLS Headquarters in Liberty Market to monitor working of the staff round-the-clock.

Responding to a question about the unclaimed vehicles in police custody, the CCPO said that they were planning “auction” of the unclaimed properties. He said the AVLS personnel were also in contact with forensic experts to determine the ownership of tempered vehicles. “We are struggling to trace the genuine owners of the tempered vehicles, which are seized by the police. We are working to get auctioned unclaimed properties to avoid its misuse and damage”.

When asked about the arrests in Samanabad shooting which left two young people dead, the police chief said that two of the four suspects, nominated in the FIR, had been arrested. Police are conducting raids to the arrest those who are still at large, he said and vowed that justice must be ensured since police are investigating the brutal assault.

The CCPO said that the police would launch an awareness campaign to educate the motorists about safety measures to control auto-lifting. He said the Lahore Parking Company and City Traffic Police would also join hands with the AVLS officers to control such a crime. The police have identified crime hot-spots in connection with auto-lifting incidents and the department is taking multiple initiatives to secure vehicles and smash the network of the auto-lifters, he said.

Several organised gangs are active in the booming business of auto-lifting in big cities of the Punjab province. Every year, over 20,000 people are deprived of their vehicles either by thieves or robbers from across the province.

Police recover less than 10 percent of the total snatched or stolen vehicles while thousands of cases are declared as “untraceable” and disposed of after completion of legal formalities.

Meanwhile, CCPO Amin Wains and DIG Haider Ashraf distributed keys of the cars and motorcycles among the genuine owners. A resident of Township, Ali Hassan, was among the lucky ones who got back his stolen car after three years.

“I just have seen my Toyota Corolla. It was almost new when it was stolen three years ago. Now it’s totally changed with different paint colour, tyres, and even bumpers,” he said. “But I am happy that it ultimately I got it back”.