A routine vehicle check by Udawalawe police recently led to the arrest of a security forces deserter believed to be involved in nefarious activities, Senior DIG Jayantha Wickramaratne said.
In an interview with The Island, Wickramaratne, praised the Udawalawe police for apprehending the suspect described as an ex-Kotalawela Defence Academy (KDA) cadet.
The police manning a snap road block on the Ratnapura-Embilipitiya road had also recovered a Chinese built T 56 assault rifle concealed in the vehicle. According to Inspector Sanath Kumara, Officer-in-Charge of the Udawalawe police who had been at the scene of the arrest and the recovery of the weapon, the suspect was believed to be involved in armed robberies.
Wickramaratne said that the police searched the vehicle as they identified the occupants as trouble makers. There had been additional sets of number plates which too prompted the search, he said.
On a directive of IGP Chandra Fernando, police headquarters had prepared a comprehensive dossier on vehicle thefts and robberies and some of the suspects allegedly involved in vehicle robberies. `We have made available this to 13 DIG areas,` he said, while expressing the belief that the dossier would be useful in their efforts to track down the wanted vehicle thieves and recover missing vehicles.
He emphasised the need to share intelligence on what he termed as grave crime. Replying to questions, he said that there were organised gangs engaged in the lucrative stolen vehicle racket. The recent arrest of two persons of a gang that targeted the car parks of Asha Central, Asiri and Apollo also led to the recovery of a T 56 assault rifle. He speculated on the possibility of this particular gang being involved in armed robberies in Colombo and its suburbs.
Wickramaratne acknowledged that some law enforcement officers were in collusion with vehicle robbers. He said that most of the vehicles robbed in the south were sold in areas held by the LTTE. Gangs had taken advantage of the conducive environment following the Cease-Fire Agreement, he asserted. The lessening of restrictions on civilian movements across the Omanthai entry/exit point had made gangs? task easier, he said.He urged people not to buy stolen vehicles. `They will have to face dire consequences,` he said.