Stolen vehicles may go where we cannot follow them
1389’s SUV was recently stolen, from a parking deck that happened to be in a river port city in the US. The police came up with nothing, so we eventually started looking to purchase a replacement vehicle. When we mentioned our predicament to a car salesman, he told us, “That was a diesel, so it probably ended up being shipped in a container to Saudi Arabia.”
Ouch. It had been a good vehicle, and not one that could easily be replaced.
As a practical matter, there was little, if anything, that we ourselves could have done to prevent the theft. Systems such as LoJack are generally a good idea, but that wouldn’t have helped in this instance, because the vehicle was stolen in an area where it wasn’t available. The police can help only when the vehicle turns up either in their own jurisdiction, or in another jurisdiction that shares information with them.
Stolen vehicles and jihadist terrorism
Considering that we don’t want any more vehicles stolen, I figured that it was time to do some more research.
Everything I found confirmed my suspicion that there is indeed a strong connection between stolen vehicles and jihadist terrorism.
Once a vehicle has reached the Middle East, it’s gone
Except in Iraq, the U.S. and other western nations do not have the option to use their own police or military to trace and retrieve stolen vehicles from the Muslim Middle East. Nor do the local or national authorities offer any real cooperation. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, or the current regimes in Kuwait or Yemen or Dubai, are not all that terribly concerned about protecting the property rights of infidels living overseas.
Stolen vehicles are used to commit other crimes
Stolen vehicles are less traceable than rental cars and the like. They are used as getaway cars, for smuggling persons as well as contraband goods, you name it.
The profits from selling stolen vehicles and parts go to fund more terrorist violence
Stolen vehicles and parts get good prices from overseas buyers.
A stolen vehicle may be used as a car or truck bomb
The last place you would want to see your car is on the news, being used as a car or truck bomb to attack U.S. or coalition troops, or perhaps Israelis or other innocent civilians. One source says that the Chevy Suburban is a particular favorite for this purpose. If this happens, your vehicle’s demise may be featured on YouTube as a scene in a jihadist recruitment video. True, you might never see enough of the vehicle in one piece to identify it as yours, but still…
What can be done?
Never mind political correctness – use the clues that we have
Criminals involved in any form of illicit international trade, including stolen vehicles, don’t sell their products randomly all over the world. They network with relatives or friends who are located in one or two specific countries, generally the home countries of the people involved. Catching the perpetrators means tracing the pathway back from the destination, while resolutely ignoring any false accusations of “racial profiling” and so forth.
For example, suppose people in Saudi are seen driving SUVs that have Florida license tags or dealer plaques. The SUVs probably are going out through the busiest port, which would be Miami. The likeliest perpetrators would be Saudi Arabians, or people with ties to Saudi Arabia, in south Florida, who buy and sell vehicles, or who export vehicles and parts. One or more of the people involved, perhaps container truck drivers, must have access to the port facilities. Of course, following the money will show where the proceeds are going.
Better inspection of outgoing containers
Because this aspect of vehicle theft has to do with international trade in stolen goods, some responsibility for stemming the tide falls upon the federal or national governments of the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the EU. Everybody has been worried about dirty bombs, loose nukes, bioweapons, and other WMDs coming into the U.S. and other countries via container ships, and rightfully so! The U.S. has stepped up its efforts to inspect incoming shipping containers and other cargo. But the same effort needs to be made to inspect outgoing shipping containers and cargo, to stop al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations from smuggling stolen goods and other contraband out of the U.S. and other western countries.
Fellow 1389 Blog team admin CzechRebel points out that this is like a stage magic trick: the bad guys let everybody focus on just one aspect of the problem (in this case, incoming freight); meanwhile, nobody notices that they’re pulling a fast one in some other quarter (namely, outbound smuggling). We need to monitor every major potential security vulnerability, not just the obvious ones.
States, provinces, and localities need to work harder to share stolen vehicle identification data
While I’d be the first to say that there’s plenty of room for improvement at the federal or national level, both in the U.S. and elsewhere, the fact is that most of the job of stopping vehicle theft has to be done locally. States, provinces, counties, and cities must streamline the task of sharing stolen vehicle identification data, even across national boundaries. This problem is by no means limited to the U.S.!
Private companies might even start making it their business to collect “hot sheet” data from all over the world. For a reasonable fee, they could offer it not only to governmental bodies, but also to everyone else who needs that information, including prospective purchasers who want to be sure that they are getting good title.
WASHINGTON: Fifteen years after U.S. states were directed to share motor vehicle information in a national database, only nine states have done so, making it nearly impossible to identify hundreds of thousands of stolen vehicles – including a small but steady number that end up as car bombs in Iraq.
FBI officials said they believe the database could help break up far-flung terrorist networks, which are using vehicles stolen and smuggled from the United States.
Bought and sold on the international black market, cars and trucks help fund criminal operations and can be turned into the terrorist weapon of choice against U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians: vehicles packed with explosives. The FBI declined to estimate how many stolen U.S. cars have turned up as car bombs in Iraq but said the number is believed to be at least in the dozens [more]…
- Category Link: Articles by CzechRebel on 1389 Blog
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- Category Link: Articles on vehicle theft
- Category Link: Articles on vehicles in general
- Category Link: Articles on crime
- Category Link: Articles on Saudi Arabia
- Interpol: Vehicle crime
- TheAge.com (Australia): Police struggle to put brake on stolen car traffic
- Halifax, The Daily News: 16 top-end cars stolen in two weeks
- NPR: Analysis: License Plates For Stolen Cars in Gaza
- Boston.com: US car theft rings probed for ties to Iraq bombings
- An Englishman In Saudi Arabia: Western Myths #8: There Is No Crime In Saudi Arabia
- Atlas Shrugs: The Stolen Cars of Al Qaeda
- Atlas Shrugs: UPDATE: Al Qaeda’s Stolen Cars
- Iraqi National News Agency: The Iraqi Coast Guard seizes four tankers carrying smuggled cars
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