A serial car thief was arrested in Akenfa, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State over the weekend during a stop-and-search operation, after previous arrests and detentions in Port Harcourt and Warri.
The suspect, John Andrew, a dismissed soldier admitted to being a member of a syndicate responsible for snatching vehicles with master keys in Bayelsa and other states across the country.
The suspect, who hails from Cross River State, was said to have allegedly stolen many vehicles using master keys produced for him in Ghana.
Andrew, it was gathered, was a leader of a five-man gang, who allegedly spread their criminal tentacles to Enugu, Benue and Cross River states.
Briefing newsmen at the headquarters, the Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Asuquo Amba, who paraded the suspect, described him as a ”habitual criminal”.
He said the suspect was arrested several times in Bayelsa alone, adding that he was once arraigned in Delta by the police for similar offence.
“Andrew is a habitual criminal. We have apprehended this suspect three times. The first time he stole some vehicles in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, we apprehended him in Bayelsa. The second time, he stole some vehicles in Ughelli, Delta State and brought them into Bayelsa, we were able to apprehend him.
“We were able to recover three vehicles from him and the matter was transferred to Delta State Police Command. The Delta State Police Command arraigned him before the court, however, I do not know whether he has finished serving his jail sentence or he was granted court bail because I am definitely sure he was not given police bail.
”On June 17, 2017, about 1pm, our policemen, while on routine stop-and-search operation at Akenfa area, flagged a Toyota with number-plate AG 599 YEN. The suspect zoomed off to avoid search. He was pursued and arrested by the policemen.
“The Toyota car was stolen from where it was parked at Green Villa, Biogbolo, Yenagoa. The owner has been identified. In the course of our investigation, we recovered many masterkeys. He claimed that each of the keys costs N50, 000 and were brought in from Ghana. He said with the keys, he could open any vehicle no matter the make.”
Amba confirmed that investigations revealed that the suspect was dismissed from the Nigerian Army adding that since his dismissal, Andrew perpetually operated a gang that specialised in stealing vehicles.
“We are happy we have caught him again. I want to assure the public that we are up to all his tricks and that with his arrest, the city of Yenagoa and Bayelsa will be at peace, especially knowing quite alright that most people in the metropolis do not have garages or car parks as most vehicles are parked on the streets, that is why he took advantage of that. But with his arrest, I am sure our vehicles will be more secured. We are going to get some of his gang members in Makurdi and Enugu.”
Speaking to journalists, Andrew said he was dismissed from the Army for mutiny in 2014, adding that he used to sell each stolen car for N300, 000 to one Ike in Makurdi, Benue State.
“I use master keys to remove vehicles from where they are parked. The police have apprehended me three times – I stole a Toyota Camry from Port Harcourt, Rivers State. They caught me in Yenagoa before transferring me to Port Harcourt. Another one was a Hilux, I stole that one from Warri in Delta State and two others.
”When they took me to court in Delta State, I was put in prison but the owner told the Magistrate’s Court that I should pay him the money he used to repair his vehicle and that he was not interested in any case.
”I am very sorry, it won’t happen again. I am going to sign an undertaking, any time they catch me again, they should do anything they like to me. It is the devil’s work. I got the keys from Ghana. I buy one for N50, 000. I have five gang members.
“I am a dismissed soldier. My last station was 3 Batallion, Warri, Delta State. I was accused of mutiny while on military operation in Borno State. I was brought to Delta State for court martial and I was dismissed in 2014. I am from Cross River State and I am a yam farmer.”