3 more Koreans fall; vans found-A A +A
Friday, February 22, 2013
CEBU CITY -- Three more Korean nationals were arrested in Mandaue City Wednesday afternoon in relation to the series of car theft in Metro Cebu.
Police invited one of the suspected masterminds for questioning.
Chu Hyun Chen wasn’t taken into custody because the police didn’t have strong evidence against him yet, said Superintendent Pablo Labra II of the Central Visayas Regional Police Office.
“If we file a case against him, it will not stand in court. But definitely, he is not off the hook,” he said.
As of Thursday, five Koreans and a Filipino nurse have been arrested in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Talisay in relation to the car theft incidents.
Eleven Starex vans have been recovered so far.
In Mandaue, policemen saw Kim Kyung Hwan, 33, Wonseok Lee, 32, and Jang Hyun Lee, 44, abandoning a silver gray Hyundai Starex van (JEH-875) in front of Villa Therese Subdivision in Cansuntingan, Mandaue City Wednesday morning.
Later in the afternoon, Kim was arrested in a car surplus shop in Cabancalan, while the two others were caught in a warehouse in the same barangay.
A complaint for car theft was filed against them at the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office Thursday afternoon.
Kim, who lives in a subdivision in Banilad, Mandaue City, reportedly owns Suwon Jonghap Korean Car Dealer. But in a lease contract obtained by the police, a Roldan Ales-na was named owner of the shop.
Mandaue City Police Office Director Superintendent Petronelli Baldebrin said Alesna and Kim were also named lessees of a warehouse in Castillex Compound in Cabancalan. Stolen vehicles, he said, were kept in the warehouse.
Alesna told the police that vehicles imported from South Korea were stored in the warehouse, but he denied any knowledge that stolen vehicles were also kept there.
On February 16 and 17, Alesna said Kim instructed him to go to the warehouse and have two vehicles repainted.
Alesna said he saw five Starex vans, but he was not aware that these were stolen.
Kim, who was brought to the Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) Investigation and Detection Management Branch (IDMB) Thursday afternoon, denied he is part of a car theft syndicate operating in Metro Cebu.
Kim said he has been in Cebu for five years, while Wonseok and Jang have been in Cebu for a month.
Baldebrin said that at past 6 a.m. Wednesday, the three men were seen leaving the stolen vehicle owned by Francisco Garciano Perater.
The vehicle was stolen last February 4 in Pari-an, Cebu City.
A police team composed of Inspector Philip Silva, deputy chief of the City Intelligence Branch, Police Officer 3 (PO3) Cedric Castillano, PO1 Monet Montenegro and PO2 Alexius Tangub were conducting a follow-up operation in the area when they saw the three Koreans.
When the Koreans noticed the police, they got off the vehicle and ran away. But the police recognized Kim as the owner of a car dealership in Cabancalan.
The police, who found four license plates inside the abandoned vehicle, went to the Suwon Jonghap Korean Car Dealer and arrested Kim there.
They then went to the warehouse. A few minutes later, a yellow sports car arrived and two Koreans got off the car.
Silva and his men recognized the two as the companions of Kim and arrested them.
The two suspects may have been unaware that the police had located the warehouse, Baldebrin said.
He said two more Hyundai Starex vans were found in the car surplus shop. One of the units is reportedly owned by a Korean woman who went to MCPO Wednesday night.
Seung Dong Park reported that her Starex van was stolen last Jan. 13.
Baldebrin said 10 Hyundai Starex vans have been recovered in Mandaue since Wednesday morning. All four vehicles that were reported stolen in Mandaue since January were recovered.
IDMB Chief Michael Anthony Bastes said the suspects sold the stolen units at a much cheaper price to dispose of these immediately.
For his part, Chen, one of the two alleged masterminds in the car theft incidents, denied any participation in the crimes.
When interviewed by policemen, he said he may have been mistaken for someone else because he always accompanies his business partner identified as Mr. Lim.
Kim Jhe Young, alias Leo “Andy” Lim, 42, and Hong Seo Yong, alias Luis, 32, reportedly sell the stolen cars to Lim, the other alleged mastermind.
Young and Yong were arrested in a motel on Sanciangko St. in Cebu City last Tuesday.
Chen said he and Lim sell used cars, and he’s aware that authorities would check their permit to sell and their units anytime.
Chen, who lives in an upscale subdivision in Barangay Banilad, Cebu City, immediately agreed to the invitation of the police for questioning.
Labra, chief of the Regional Intelligence Division, said they are still looking for Lim, who was linked to car theft incidents in Mandaue and Cebu cities.
The police are also coordinating with the Korean police through the consular office in Manila for the background of Young and Yong.
Young and Yong’s arrest came after police caught Raphael Montilla, a Filipino licensed nurse.
The trio are allegedly behind the theft of Starex vans, which are reportedly sold for P30,000 to P45,000 per unit.
Since January, 12 Starex vans had been reported missing in the cities of Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Cebu.
Nine were recovered last Wednesday and two others were recovered on Thursday. Seven units were found abandoned in different parts of Mandaue.
Last January 7, a gold Hyundai Starex van (YGS-339) owned by Dioscoro Hervas was stolen in Singson Village, Mandaue City.
On January 16, a black van (YEY-193) owned by Seung Dong Park was stolen in Agus, Lapu-Lapu City.
Three days later, the grey van (GLL-639) owned by Ramon Fernandez was stolen in Kasambagan, Cebu City.
Last January 20, the suspects allegedly took the white van (GLF-128) owned by Maria Cecilia Pontanar in Banilad, Cebu City.
On February 1, a gold van (MFN-465) owned by Kim Hee Dong was stolen in Sta. Cruz, Cebu City.
A grey van (JEH-875) owned by Francisco Perater was stolen in Parian, Cebu City three days later.
On February 6, Elmer Mordeno’s silver van (LMX-857) was stolen in Cabancalan, Mandaue City.
Another white van (GKT-747) owned by Danilo Teves was stolen in Subangdaku, Mandaue City on the same week.
The last victim was Joram Naraga, whose beige van was stolen in Marigondon, Lapu-Lapu City. (Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 23, 2013.