Delhi

Gone in 60 seconds: Sotiganj, the infamous automobile parts market

Mastering the art: Sotiganj in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut district is Asia’s largest car scrap market. Crash courses and classes are organised for thieves who steal cars for dealers in Sotiganj.   | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty

They like to keep themselves abreast of the latest advances in technology, take crash courses, attend workshops, use online tutorials and visit websites, and even take tips from experts to learn more. However, all this learning is centred around ways to steal cars boasting state-of-the-art security systems.

Sotiganj, an infamous automobile parts market in Meerut district of western Uttar Pradesh, which is also called the ‘mortuary of cars’, is so up-to-date on hi-tech security systems that thieves patronised by dealers here can steal a car in a matter of seconds and mechanics can strip one of parts within minutes.

 

Crash courses and classes are organised for thieves who steal cars for dealers in Sotiganj market. In fact, the thieves here have taken on every recent security system in cars head-on. They claim they can steal any locked vehicle in a matter of seconds, irrespective of the make or model.

“They keep themselves updated on latest security technologies used in cars like keyless security systems. You name it and they can breach it. They ‘learn’ from online tutorials, YouTube and other websites to master new tricks from auto thieves around the globe,” said Meerut Superintendent of Police Ran Vijay Singh.

Gangs of car lifters are equipped with laptops, high-end diagnostic kits and imported key-making machines. These imported devices can open almost every car.

Gangs of car lifters are equipped with laptops, high-end diagnostic kits and imported key-making machines. These imported devices can open almost every car.   | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty

 

Damage GPS of stolen cars

A police officer, who was earlier posted at Sadar police station under which Sotiganj falls, said carjackers have all kinds of latest devices to unlock highly secure car. They have devices to detect the location of the GPS device fitted in the car and damage it immediately after stealing the car. By the time the car owner realises that the car is missing and informs the police, it has already been dismantled in a godown at Sotiganj.

A policeman said gangs of car lifters are equipped with laptops, high-end diagnostic kits and imported key-making machines. These imported devices can open almost every car.

 

“The ‘sharks’ of Sotiganj arrange ‘classes’ for thieves to learn new tricks to beat security systems in cars. They take the help of experts and hackers available online to learn the use of software to breach car security systems. Thieves have installed the software on their laptops to unlock cars,” said a police officer.

Shop owners in Sotiganj claim it is Asia’s largest scrap automobile market. They said customers from Delhi and other States come here to buy genuine automobiles or car parts at very cheap rates, less than one fourth of the original cost.

There are around 1,000 automobile shops in the market that mostly deal in the sale and purchase of stolen vehicles parts. The police said vehicles stolen from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Noida and Ghaziabad land in Sotiganj.

Auto mafia kingpin Haji Galla, who is currently in jail, provided political shelter to various shop owners in the area, the police said.

The Meerut Superintendent of Police said police teams from Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi keep coming to the city regularly for recovery of vehicles.

“We give all support to visiting police teams, but sometimes we face resistance from shopkeepers. This leads to law and order problems in the area,” Mr. Singh said.

Gangs of car lifters are equipped with laptops, high-end diagnostic kits and imported key-making machines. These imported devices can open almost any car.

Gangs of car lifters are equipped with laptops, high-end diagnostic kits and imported key-making machines. These imported devices can open almost any car.   | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty

 

You name it, they have it

The market is often frequented by youngsters, most of whom want to ‘modify’ their cars on a limited budget. The front bumper of an SUV that costs around ₹20,000 at an authorised service station is available for ₹5,000 or less, depending on one’s negotiation skills, at Sotiganj market.

You name the make and model of the car, the shop owners here have the part you want.

“I often come to the market to buy automobile parts for my car. I find the car parts for a very low price in this market. I cannot afford to buy car parts from authorised service stations, where I have to pay over four times the amount I pay here, inclusive of labour charge and other taxes,” said Sagar Singh, a customer.

 

When this reporter approached a shopkeeper asking for parts of an SUV, the shop owner, who identified himself as Furkhan, took him to a godown where spare parts and chassis of over 100 cars of various segment were kept. But when the reporter asked for the dashboard of a luxury car, the shop owner promised to arrange the dashboard within a week. Then, he handed over his visiting card and asked for an advance to ‘place’ the order.

“After we receive an order from a customer, it is passed on to contractors. The contractor then forwards the order to the carjackers. The carjackers conduct reconnaissance for a particular car model and steal it. They get full payment only after the car reaches Meerut,” said a shop owner.


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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 11:10:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/gone-in-60-seconds/article24008716.ece

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