Staff Reporter

KOCHI: The police have allayed fears caused by a spate of vehicle thefts that were reported from rural areas of the district. These incidents caused an initial panic as they came soon after reports of stolen vehicles being used for planting bombs.

However, police officials maintain that no such trend has been proven in the State till now. “No case has been detected so far to link the vehicle theft attempts to sabotage,” said P. Vijayan, Superintendent of Police, Ernakulam Rural.

Recently, two attempts were made to steal cars under the guise of hiring them. In one case, the car was hired from Nedumbassery for a trip to Thekkady and the driver was made unconscious and dumped in a deserted area. A similar operation was tried on another car hired from Aluva. It is also rumoured that the same suspects were involved in both the cases.

“One of the cars has been located and the investigating team has got clear leads to finding the other one. It is almost clear that the vehicles were stolen with the intention of selling them. So, theories of sabotage could be ruled out completely,” said Mr. Vijayan.

Decreasing incidents

On the other hand, police officials cite records to show that instances of vehicle theft have come down considerably. “No major cases of vehicle stealing have been reported from within the city limits,” said T. Vikram, Deputy City Police Commissioner.

Even while playing down the incidents, the police have stepped up monitoring of parking lots and are closely watching intelligence collected by plainclothesmen. “Vehicles that are left unused or unattended to for more than normal periods are immediately checked. Similarly, shadow police personnel have been deployed for more effective monitoring of parking spaces,” said Mr. Vikram.

Vehicle checking has been made more stringent inside the city limits. “Steps have been taken to do checking of vehicle records as well in suspicious cases, while ensuring there is no obstruction in traffic flow,” he said.

This, along with stepped up drive against drunken driving, has reflected in the reduction of vehicle theft cases from the city. “We have also started taking suo motu cases against traffic offences,” said Mr. Vikram.