Racing driver arrested in swoop on car theft ring

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 February, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 February, 2005, 12:00am

A syndicate accused of stealing cars and selling them on the second-hand market has been smashed following the arrest of eight people, including a racing car driver, say police.

The gang allegedly changed the vehicle serial numbers before selling them through legal channels.

Six suspected stolen cars with an estimated street value of $2 million were recovered in the office of a second-hand car company in Yuen Long.

Seven men and a woman were rounded up when officers from the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau raided a number of locations including the car company in Ko Po San Tsuen, off Tsing Long Highway, on Monday evening.

The proprietor of the company, suspected to be the gang's ringleader, and his live-in girlfriend were arrested at his house in Kam Tin. He is understood to be a racing car driver who took part in the Macau Grand Prix.

Officers said another five, aged between 19 and 50, were employees of his company. They were arrested for handling stolen property. Another suspect was also arrested.

Superintendent Simon So Kam-sing said the syndicate changed identification numbers on the bodies of stolen cars to fit the data of scrapped vehicles the gang had earlier acquired. 'After the modification, the stolen cars were sold in the second-hand market through legal channels in Hong Kong.'

Last night, detectives were still trying to find out how long the syndicate had been operating and how many vehicles had been stolen. After acquiring the scrapped cars, police said, the gang would send its members or recruit car thieves to steal vehicles of the same make.

'It's a high profit-making business. Without any capital investment, the syndicate could pocket money that stolen cars were sold for,' a police source said.

Last night, the eight suspects were being held for questioning and no charges had been laid.