…victims accused of creating market
Stealing car badges has now become a fast-growing petty crime activity used to make a quick buck, with Volkswagen car owners mostly on the receiving end.
It is probably the worst of times to own a Volkswagen in Namibia with the theft of one of the items that identifies the vehicle escalating by the day. Just stand by a busy road, and you will notice that two in five Volkswagen vehicles that drive past do not have their frontal VW signs.
Car parts theft is nothing new to Namibia with import Toyota Corolla owners still having to watch over their cars while parked at night. According to City Police, whose spokesperson Fabian Amukwelele confirmed the high theft trends saying it is a huge concern to the City Police with complaints of the nature coming in every day.
“This is becoming a serious concern. We receive a lot of complaints and it is because of the black market that exists. There are individuals in the market when after their badges are stolen, they ask these criminals to look for them and this is how the market is growing at the same time,” said Amukwelele.
“Victims will be going around in Katutura looking for people who sell badges. It is serious that we get complaints almost every day that their parts are stolen.
Amukwelele said most do not even register cases with the Police as they are oblivious of who might have taken their badge.
The reality is that any driver could become a victim, as the thieves seem to be operating both during the day and at night, as well as on parking lots and inside yards.
Car owner Tangeni Mathew, who lives in Katutura, says that he has come to the sad conclusion that reporting this type of crime would just be a waste of time and effort.
After a long day, Mathew took off to a local drinking spot in the Northern Industrial Area where he went for a drink. His car was parked outside where security would oversee any movements. An hour later her drove home, only to be told by his friends whom he drove past that his front VW sign was gone.
“It was like a joke but since it was nothing new to my circle, I took it in like any other car owner. There was no need to report it to the Police because these are daily cases in Windhoek. I will not replace it either because it will be taken again,” he said.
He has had to face the reality that he is just one of the victims, because soon after another driver, whose badge had also been stolen, offered to sell him a second-hand badge as replacement.
The badges sell between N$250 to N$300 for a full set on the streets, a massive discount if the driver was to buy from the local car dealerships where prices are anything between N$700 to N$900.
Another driver, Maria Mulokoshi from Khomasdal, says she assumes her car badge was stolen inside the yard at home.
“I had washed the car the night before and in the morning the badge was gone,” said Mulokoshi.
“I did not report it to the police, because I do not expect the police to take this as a serious case.”
Local Volkswagen dealership Autohaus Parts Manager Graeme Ingram said they are unaffected by the new trend.
Although he confirmed that the trend has not affected not affected sales at Autohaus, the high theft cases are a concern.
“It is a concern for us when clients come in for new badges. It is a concern to everyone especially the car owners.
At some point, the crime element needs to be addressed form another side because the very same guys who steal these signs sell them to the victims and the victims still buy.
As a safety precaution, Amukwelele has advised drivers to be very cautious where they park their vehicles. “There is no other way than to park your car at a safe place. Also, the community needs to help us fight this market.
The moment you see these people selling these badges, report to the police so we interrogate them.
Sometimes as the public we see these things happening but we don’t do anything.
We are trying our best but we can only win if we work together.”