KOTA KINABALU: City police have solved at least 20 cases of car and motorcycle thefts with the arrest of five suspects from two gangs in April and May.
Kota Kinabalu police chief Asst Comm Habibi Majinji said they were still hunting two men, one of whom was believed to be a mastermind of one of the gangs.
“For the first gang, known as Gang Gatok, three men comprising two illegal Filipino immigrants and a local man, were nabbed between April 25 and May 2,” he said, adding that two motorcycles and two cars were seized from them.
He said their leader, identified as Arthur Julian Abit, also known as Gatok, 34, was on the run.
ACP Habibi said the suspects aged between 20 and 39, including Gatok, were believed to have been actively involved in vehicle thefts, especially around Inanam near here since the end of 2018.
The two Filipino illegal immigrants had no previous criminal records, whereas the local suspect had been jailed four times since 2011 for drugs and theft-related offences.
“We are on the hunt for Gatok. Those with information on his whereabouts are urged to come forward to facilitate investigations,” he said, adding that they believed the suspects were responsible for the theft of over 10 cars and motorcycles.
Gatok has no known previous convictions and is said to be the one responsible for selling the stolen items and even buying from other car thieves to resell their stolen vehicles.
ACP Habibi said the second gang of car thieves was busted on May 6, when policemen tailed a vehicle which they suspected was stolen, following a report from Tawau in early April.
He said two undocumented Filipinos, age 38 and 46, were nabbed at about 11.30pm after policemen intercepted the driver at a gas station near here.
“Initial investigations found these men were involved in at least 11 car and motorcycle thefts around Penampang, Putatan, Inanam, Luyang, Papar and Tawau,” he said.
They are still looking for another suspect, known as Jamal, in his 20s, in connection to the case.
“We believe these suspects also sell stolen vehicles and parts to Gatok,” he said, adding that police were confident of solving more related cases once Gatok was arrested.