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Wednesday July 14, 2010

Raid turns wild: Cops seize not only stolen cars but also endangered wildlife

KUALA LUMPUR: It was a case of killing two birds with one stone when a police raid on a warehouse to seize stolen cars also netted a huge array of endangered wild animals.

Maybe, “two birds” is an understatement. The raiding party claimed to have seized “thousands” of birds, along with various species of protected wildlife.

The prized seizure at the warehouse in Taman Wahyu was a pair of the rare Bird of Paradise, also known as Cenderawasih in Malay, which supposedly has the power to bring good fortune to its owner. The pair is said to be worth RM1mil on the wildlife black market.

Other rare birds seized in the 3am raid yesterday were the blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, the black-coloured Palm Cockatoo and the white rump Shama.

Caged and hidden: Thousands of birds and various species of protected wildlife were seized in the raid on the warehouse Tuesday.

Among the caged animals found at the warehouse were leopard cats, albino pygmy monkeys and numerous domestic cats, believed to be kept by their captors to cross-breed with wild cats to produce exotic offspring.

The police also recovered 42 stolen vehicles, valued at more than RM1mil, at the warehouse. Two men, aged 40 and 23, were arrested.

Kuala Lumpur Wildlife Department deputy director Celescoriano Razond said over 20 species of the animals and birds found at the warehouse were listed as protected wildlife.

“We thank the police for rescuing the animals and will work closely with them to bring the criminals to justice,” he said.

City CID chief Senior Asst Comm II Datuk Ku Chin Wah said the police team went to the warehouse following a tip-off on the stolen cars.

“We arrested two men but believe they are only workers there,” he said.

SAC Ku said police believed a syndicate was behind the thefts, adding that they were looking for two men – Terry Tong, 49, and Kelvin Lim, 50 – to help in the investigations.

“The syndicate, under the guise of insurance agents, specialises in stealing cars from impounds.

Big recovery: Stolen cars were seized during the raid at the warehouse Tuesday.

“They claim they are helping their customers to recover the vehicles.

Most of the time, the owners or real insurance agents would have no knowledge of this, SAC Ku said, adding that as many as 20 cars found at the warehouse were reported stolen from various impound lots in the Klang Valley.

SAC Ku said some of the cars’ parts were cannibalised while others were sold after being fitted with false registrations.

“We are not ruling out more arrests,” he added.

SAC Ku said the raiding party was surprised to find a “mini zoo” at the warehouse apart from the stolen cars and spare parts.

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