Motor vehicle swindle

A Corporate Area man is alleging collusion between cops in the Washington Gardens area and a haulage company to deliberately target and tow vehicles on false premises in order to milk owners of cash.

In a distress call to the Jamaica Observer last Wednesday, the citizen outlined a series of events that, he said, provide proof of his accusations.

A check on the Companies Office of Jamaica website listed as ‘closed’ an entity by the same name of the haulage business at the same address identified by the citizen.

An attempt by the Sunday Observer to search for further details about the business, which was incorporated/registered in 2001, was met with a notification stating “no document actions available for closed business name, cannot continue your document viewing for closed or expired business name”.

Further checks by the Sunday Observer revealed that the haulage company was among a listing of (delinquent businesses) flagged by the Companies Office.

According to the man, his vehicle was parked several feet away from the gateway of an agent who was handling its sale on Sunday, September 3, 2023. The following morning it was missing and, following enquiries, was later that day found to be at a storage yard in the Corporate Area.

He said initial checks with the police in the vicinity revealed that a man, who resides in the area and who reportedly has close connections with the police, had colluded with a corporal at the police control centre to have the vehicle removed.

The vehicle owner is contending that the claims made by the cop to have the vehicle removed are patently false. According to him, the cop claimed that: the vehicle was abandoned in the community for four days, was blocking a garbage truck, and that checks by the police with the neighbours had revealed that they were unaware as to who was connected to the vehicle.

However, the vehicle owner countered that, “Persons in the community had helped to move the vehicle, which is 100 feet from the gate of the driver, and the garbage trucks only come on Thursdays.”

He said the vehicle was moved by a wrecker to Duhaney Park Police Station “but was advised that there is no room there, so they brought it to their storage yard and are now trying to extort $30,000 from me for removal”.

“It would be a serious conflict of interest for them to be deliberately targeting vehicles to capture them and then extort citizens even after we prove to them that the police claims are false,” the vehicle owner stated.

Repeated phone calls made by the Sunday Observer to Duhaney Park Police Station went unanswered. The newspaper was, however, reliably informed that a station representative, in response to queries about the whereabouts of the vehicle, had said no official notation had been made by the station.

The man’s accusations came in the same week that news emerged of a multimillion-dollar racket involving the theft of vehicle parts, including engines, at the motor vehicle pound in Falmouth, Trelawny. The pound is located near Falmouth Police Station.

The revelation resulted in the Transport Authority calling in the police to investigate the matter.

“We have asked the police to do a thorough investigation and the police are currently treating with the investigation with respect of the affected vehicles,” managing director of the Transport Authority Ralston Smith told the Observer last Wednesday.

According to Smith, the irregularities were discovered during an audit at the pound after the security firm was recently replaced.

“We made the discovery just after [a] change of the security arrangement. All our pounds are covered 24 hours islandwide by security firms, and we discovered, subsequent from changing from one security firm to another, that a number of vehicles at our pound facility, engines among other parts, went missing,” Smith said.

“Subsequent to that, we had our auditors conduct an audit of the vehicles at the pound,” he added.

“The Transport Authority, as a reputable organisation, ensures that it employs security companies for all of the locations and a part of the security contract is that the security company is responsible for the safekeeping of those vehicles whilst in their custody,” he said.

Smith said that parts are missing from 70 per cent of the more than 30 vehicles impounded at the facility.