The ‘cursed’ Honda Fit

The ‘cursed’ Honda Fit

MASERU – IT IS a small and fast car with generous space. Little wonder that the Honda Fit is a hit with many Basotho.
But, according to the police, the car has another set of admirers – thieves.
Police say the Honda Fit has become the vehicle of choice for thieves, thanks to its speed and popularity. Once it leaves a crime scene, it gets lost in the sea of Honda fit cars on the streets.

“Honda Fit is a very popular car in this country, so it’s no surprise that in almost every case it will be identified as involved in the (committing of crime),” said police spokesman Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli.
In most cases the cars bear no number plates, making it even more difficult for the police to track criminals, said Mopeli.

Security guards in business complexes and malls in Maseru, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they have witnessed shoppers being robbed of their belongings by thieves driving Honda Fit cars.

A guard at one of the malls told thepost of a Chinese victim.
“When he opened the car door trying to get out, a passenger from the Honda Fit rushed towards him, hit him on the face and took his wallet before rushing back to the Honda Fit that was already leaving,” he said.

“By the time the Chinese man came to the security office, the Honda Fit had long gone. Bystanders tried to give chase with their cars but they were simply outraced.” In another incident, as told by another guard, a Mosotho businessman was trailed by three men from a bank in a mall. Shortly after he left the mall and entered Kofi Annan Road, the Honda Fit overtook him and blocked the road.

Two men quickly jumped out and grabbed the man, pulled him out of the car, took the money and sped away.
Thieves are not only using Honda Fit cars as their getaway cars. They are also stealing them.
Mopeli said the criminals waylay motorists who reduce speed at speed humps, sharp bends or traffic lights.

“Car-jackers may steal a car immediately after the owner has stepped out of it,” Mopeli warned.
“Thieves use remote controlled devices to restrict cars from locking up and then step into the car immediately after the car owner has left,” he said.
He also warned that sedan taxi drivers (4+1 taxis) are at risk.

He said some of the reports received at various police stations show that thieves pretend to be commuters hiring the car for a special trip.
In most cases they do not hesitate to pay up front just to entice the driver before pointing guns at the driver along the way.
Some of the cars are found abandoned after being used as getaway cars.

“Distrust is not illegal. If a 4+1 driver suspects anything they should call the police immediately,” he said.
“I am talking to 4+1 drivers because they are in most cases the targets of these robbers.”
An example of how these thieves operate manifested itself two weeks ago when Mohapi Taka’s car was stolen.
His car is part of the Luxury Telephone Taxis fleet. Someone claiming to be a client called saying they needed to be taken to Mazenod, about 12 kilometres south of Maseru.

Taka said the driver, along the way, suspected that his passengers were up to some mischief and he decided to take a gravel road that passes through the village where he would drive slowly.
While there, a passenger pointed a gun at him and instead of chickening away he grabbed it and that was when he realised that it was not loaded with bullets.

He wrestled with the passenger until they got out of the car.
The other passenger, who remained inside, sped away with the vehicle when villagers came to help the driver.
The remaining robber was beaten into a pulp before the police arrived.

Mopeli says the car was later found abandoned in Maseru and one of the robbers is still at large.
Police statistics show that in 2014 the rate for motor vehicle theft was 30.5 cases per 100 000 population rates, which fell gradually in 2015 to 22 cases per 100 000 population rates.

Maseru urban is one of the most affected areas.
The statistics show that 62.5 percent of cases were recorded in Maseru.
Leribe came a distant second with 11.9 percent of recorded cases. Qacha’s Nek had the lowest cases at 1.2 percent.
Mopeli said cases have decreased.

“In 2015 to 2017 the cases of car theft were 248, now they are 197, which is a difference of 51,” Mopeli said.
Mopeli said many car thieves have been arrested and appeared before courts and now are awaiting trial either in custody or out on bail.
Mopeli said five cars were recovered and three suspects arrested this week alone.

“There were some things that were suspicious about the cars and the police launched investigations,” Mopeli said.
“The three men were arrested and further investigations revealed that the cars had been reported missing in different areas around the country,” he said.

Moliehi Teleka

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