Strong message to foreigners-A A +A
Friday, February 22, 2013
CRIME does not pay. Indeed, this saying was proven true in the recent Metro Cebu carnapping incidents involving mainly Korean nationals. After painstaking undercover operation, authorities busted the carnapping group. The police arrested five Korean nationals directly involved in the crime and a Cebuano registered nurse. Recovered were eleven Hyundai Starex van units.
I have written in my column last Monday about the existence of this group and its illegal activities. The following day, police pounced on them in different places of Metro Cebu.
First to be arrested by combined elements of the Regional Intelligence Division of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7, the Highway Patrol Group and the Mandaue City Police Office were the two Koreans and a Filipino registered nurse, Rafael Montilla, who acted as the group's “sales agent.”
Recovered from them were nine units of Starex vans, including one owned by Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) legend Ramon “Mon” Fernandez and his wife Karla Kintanar. The vehicle was stolen from their residence in Villa Aurora subdivision in Kasambagan, Cebu City a day before this year's Sinulog.
In succeeding operations, the Mandaue police arrested three more Koreans and recovered two more units. The police are still pursuing the alleged masterminds and financiers who are also Korean nationals.
The carnappers were bold enough and even had the guts to display the stolen cars in a display area at the north reclamation area after they were repainted and their vital parts changed. They sold the units at a very cheap price.
Modesty aside, I had some knowledge regarding the police operation because an intelligence officer and a top-ranking PRO 7 official confided to me about it. Using telescopes, police operatives staked out for a couple of weeks on the rooftop of a high building in Mandaue to monitor the movement of the group in their hideout. The police confirmed the direct participation of some Koreans based on videos and testimonies of some witnesses.
One of their leads was the case of Fernandez wherein a video footage of the incident was taken by a CCTV camera of the basketball player's neighbor. The video showed Koreans in the vicinity of his residence before the car was stolen at dawn.
Their presence in that unholy hour in the area was very unusual. There were also witnesses who claimed to have seen Koreans during the actual carnapping operation.
Why were the vehicles that were involved Starex vans? According to car experts, these units, which are Korean products, are easy to open using an improvised key. The chassis and engine can easily be changed with surplus units, something that authorities can hardly trace once the vehicles are repainted. Besides, this type of vehicle is the Koreans' favorite.
I think the Land Transportation Office (LTO) should investigate where the group got the fake or tampered plate numbers.
The busting of this carnapping group will send a strong message to foreigners who are here to commit crimes. The long arms of the law will eventually catch them.
I heard that those arrested were allowed to post bail. Well, that is their right because the offense they committed is bailable. But they should not be allowed to leave the country until the termination of their cases.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 23, 2013.