UAE: Four Arrested For Series Of Vehicle Thefts In Sharjah

The Sharjah Police have reported the arrest of a four-member gang that steals vehicles whose keys are left inside. All the members were identified as Asian nationals. Colonel Hamid Saeed Al Jallaf said that the Police department received a host of complaints as vehicles were stolen from the front of the owners’ homes.

The culprits were found after the Police had launched an investigation into the matter following the complaints. A special team was formed under the Central Region Police Department to head the investigation and nab the criminals.

The police are urging the public to keep their vehicles locked and parked in secure areas

The Police had carefully planned an ambush after identifying the gang members. After the arrest was made, the suspects confessed to stealing four vehicles from the same area. According to the three suspects who stole the vehicles, the fourth one was in charge of illegally selling the stolen vehicles. The fourth member was also caught and the stolen vehicles were returned to their owners.              

According to the Police Departments of the UAE, there have been multiple reports of a device being stolen from vehicles and this type of theft has been on a sharp rise in the last two years.


The criminals are looking to get their hands on the device known as the catalytic converter, which is considered to be more valuable than gold. Found in most modern cars, the catalytic converter is an emission control device that contains palladium, platinum, and rhodium.

These metals are highly valuable and their price has shot up in the international market which has led to an increase in theft. The price of rhodium has been at a record high with an almost two hundred percent increase even exceeding the price of gold. In 2021, a gang of five Asian nationals was arrested for stealing catalytic converters from around 431 vehicles owned by two car rental firms. The total value of the stolen devices was estimated at Dh 3,640,000. 

The modus operandi of the thieves would be to cut the exhaust pipe of cars to get the converter and they would close the exhaust by welding it back. A car rental company manager said that he had given three cars to three Asians and later when they returned the vehicle, the mechanic at the company found that the catalytic converters from the cars were stolen. Upon informing the Police, the suspects were immediately arrested and taken to the public prosecution.  

According to the Police, these kinds of crimes are mainly done by either professional gangs or small-time crooks who want to make some quick money. Owners have often reported their catalytic converter devices to be missing once they give their vehicles for repairs or servicing at mechanic shops.

Sometimes, certain dishonest mechanics would convince the vehicle owners to change their catalytic converters, making them believe that they are faulty. Once they buy a new one, the old one would be retained by the mechanic and they would sell it off. A car mechanic shop owner warns that these devices have validity and can be checked through a computerized system.

A new piece would cost around Dh 6000 and so the vehicle owners should always make sure that the device is no longer valid before changing it. These devices can also be cleaned and maintained for longer periods rather than going for a new device. 

In another instance, an African gang was also sent to prison for three months and a fine of Dh 4,000 was also imposed by the Dubai Court on charges of stealing the catalytic converter device. They were deported to their countries after they served their prison term in the UAE

The Police authorities have warned vehicle owners and car rental companies to thoroughly check their vehicles once they are returned from a mechanic shop or by a rentee.

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In June 2022, a UAE-funded global police operation headed by Interpol had come across hundreds of stolen cars, trucks, and motorbikes. The operation known as Operation Carback led to the identification of around 1,121 stolen cars and 64 motorcycles.

These stolen vehicles are mostly used for criminal activities like drug trafficking, international terrorism, arms dealing, etc. The Police officers also raided ‘Chop shop’ where stolen vehicles are dismantled for their spare parts and these parts are later sold online.

According to an official report, the Private car theft cases in 2004 were reported at 12.8 cases per 100,000 population and this saw a sharp decline as it came to 5.7 cases per 100,000 population in 2018. The overall trend shows a decline in private car thefts in the UAE.                                              

Colonel Jallaf warned the public to be vigilant around their surroundings and to always lock their vehicle and not leave the keys inside even while going for quick activities. He also said that the vehicle owners should always park the vehicles in a safe place where criminals wouldn’t get a chance to steal them. The four suspects have been referred to the public prosecution in Sharjah to complete the investigation and to produce them in front of the court.

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