Auto-lifter gangs in the capital have turned tech-savvy, with many of them using Chinese software and other equipment to break into vehicles, said police. One such software, the Engine Control Module (ECM) code breaker, is available online and costs Rs 1 lakh.
Police estimate that 45 interstate auto-lifter gangs are currently operating in the capital. Explaining their modus operandi, a senior officer of the Delhi Police Crime Branch said the gangs no longer use conventional methods to break into vehicles.
“Earlier, they would procure duplicate keys of the car from either the parking attendant or an employee of a petrol pump. Now they are much more sophisticated. The gangs comprise four to five people, including a professional driver, a mechanic, and someone well-versed in technology. They usually operate in the early hours of the day,” he added.
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“Once they identify their target, they break the side window of the vehicle. The steering is deactivated by the mechanic. Then they connect the car’s ECM to the Chinese software and re-set the password,” said a police officer.
To check if the GPS is still working, police said the gang first leaves the vehicle in an isolated area for 48 to 72 hours.
If the car has a GPS system, police would be able to trace the car once the owner files a complaint. If no one comes looking for the car after 72 hours, the gang takes the vehicles and delivers it to the client. “They can even break the gear lock using certain tools,” added the officer.
While some gangs steal vehicles and sell them to scrap dealers, the rest steal cars only after getting an order from the ‘receiver of stolen vehicles’. Sources also said auto-lifting is no longer a petty crime as the turnover from the sale of stolen cars is in crores.