Crackdown nets car theft gang

Agatha Ngai

TWO cities in Guangdong report success in their crackdown on serious crime, particularly theft of luxury vehicles.

Zengcheng police have smashed a 14-strong gang that specialised in stealing cars and then selling them, the Hong Kong China News Agency said yesterday.

Twenty-six luxury cars were seized in the operation.

Public security officers initially caught four sus-pects at a petrol station. They confiscated a German-made gun equipped with a silencer, three rounds of bullets and 30,000 yuan (HK$26,640) in cash.

Following a three-day investigation, the other 10 accomplices were arrested. The authorities also discovered a further 40,000 yuan, a savings account of 140,000 yuan and equipment used to steal cars.

The report said most of the suspects were unemployed.

Many luxury cars, mostly imports from Japan, had been reported lost in Zengcheng over the past two years, said the report.

In Shenzhen, 57 car thieves received heavy sentences in five public trials between April 23 and 27, a local report said yesterday.

Two offenders were given life for stealing 11 cars and a 15-year term was given to a defendant for taking six Hondas.

Meanwhile, a total of 34 criminal cases, involving 106 people, were tried by the Shenzhen City Intermediate People's Court and four district courts.

Nine criminals committing ''grave crimes'', including murder, rape and gang robbery were sentenced to death and executed.

They included four prisoners from a 22-strong gang who had chopped 10 victims in 10 robberies between 1992 and 1993. Property worth about 100,000 yuan was involved.

The rest of the offenders either received a death penalty with a two-year reprieve and forced labour or imprisonment. The report said heavy punishments were imposed because of the seriousness of the crimes.

The Ministry of Public Security has proposed measures to strengthen forensic training in China in a bid to tackle the growing organised crime rate.

The measures include forming a special forensic team and fund-raising in ministries and commissions for six mainland medical universities to improve forensic training.

There are also plans for on-the-job assessment of staff.

Re-establishing the forensic discipline in the Chinese Criminal Police School would be considered.

There would also be investment in basic medical facilities to improve training.