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13 February 2011 | Lebanon

Car-theft ring exposed in Zahle as auto crimes up on last year

BEIRUT: A Lebanese-Syrian car theft ring active in the Bekaa city of Zahle has been disbanded by the police, it was announced Friday.

A statement issued by the Internal Security Forces said three Syrian workers – identified only by their initials, M.H., A.M., and H.H. – were arrested Thursday following a thorough investigation and follow up by Zahle's ISF investigation and operations unit.

Such car theft rings have been common in Lebanon over the past decade, whereby many of the victims of car thefts receive phone calls in which they are informed that they may recover their vehicles in exchange for a cash "ransom."

The car theft rings have been active in the vicinity of the Bekaa village of Brital, according to security sources.

According to the ISF statement, the members of the ring confessed to police that they were involved in several car thefts in Zahle and regularly reported to their chiefs in the ring, which is thought to be headed by Lebanese nationals.

"The three wanted Lebanese [heads of the car theft ring] A.M., E.Z., A.T., stand accused of several criminal charges, and there are ongoing efforts to arrest them," added the statement.

The ISF statement also said that a white Range Rover, a white Toyota, a black Cherokee Jeep, a blue Mercedes and two BMWs were recovered by ISF personnel during their recent efforts in the Bekaa to curb automobile theft.

More than 100 cars were stolen across Lebanon during January, as an ISF report last week noted an increase of 1.4 percent in car thefts compared to January of 2010. – The Daily Star

Source: Daily Star