More victims of a suspected car theft ring have come forward, fingering the gang accused of car-to-order theft of having stolen their vehicles.
Garsfontein police arrested five men on Wednesday when two of them were spotted trying to steal a car from the Moreleta Square shopping centre.
The suspects were found in possession of what police called a Toyota master key and a system modulator override. The system overrides any car security system and will allow thieves to drive off without having to deal with immobilisers or alarm systems.
In the two cars the men had driven police recovered old engine computer boxes, Allen keys, four cellphones, licence plates and screwdrivers. The Allen keys are used to pry open the keyhole and ignition to unlock the steering wheel.
One of the victims said his wife’s white bakkie was stolen in the parking lot of a Germiston shopping complex. The man, who asked not to be named, said a black car was parked in the underground parking lot and 45 minutes later it emerged followed by his wife’s bakkie.
“I believe it is the same people because the modus operandi sounds the same,” he said. The cars were captured on CCTV, but the couple never saw their vehicle again.
Another man had his Toyota Yaris Spirit stolen in Westbury, Joburg, when he was at a function. He also suspected the same gang might have been behind the theft.
The gang’s activities seem to stretch throughout Gauteng.
Police were looking for more suspects and more cars stolen so far.
Police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Annabel Middleton would not divulge the extent of the gang’s reach, as she feared this might jeopardise police investigations.
Meanwhile, Toyota has defended itself and its employees, denying any link to the car theft syndicate.
Toyota SA Motors said it did not have an overall master key that would give a vehicle owner or any other unauthorised party access to any Toyota vehicle.
Each vehicle was issued with its own master key and any replacement key would require the vehicle’s original master key to enable duplication, the company said.
Toyota SA senior manager of corporate communication Leo Kok said: “In cases where a vehicle’s original key is not available, Toyota SA requires a new electronic computer unit and master key set for that specific vehicle. This is ordered from Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan and is linked to the vehicle’s vehicle identity number.”
Toyota also did not manufacture or possess a so-called “system modulator override” device, he said.
“The company has been made aware of illegal override systems for all vehicles, not only Toyotas.”
Toyota had changed its vehicle coding and immobiliser system to block attempts at system overriding.
“Toyota will continue to improve it to counter forced entry by criminals.”