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Watch that Almera!

Watch that Almera!
... huge target for car thieves


OWNERS of roll-on-roll-off Almera cars are bawling as car thieves are now targeting this model because of a severe shortage of parts.

Since the start of this year, carjackers have made off with more than 80 Almera cars among the 500 that were stolen over the past four months.

In one month alone, 12 Almeras were stolen between Tunapuna and Tacarigua.

Almera is reportedly the most popular vehicle on the market because it is economical and sturdy, according to buyers.

The Japanese made car began to flood the market some two years ago, replacing the B-14, B-15, which were also popular models.

Foreign-used car dealers say Almeras accounted for more than 60 per cent of the roll-on-roll-off vehicles imported over the past two years.

Prices range from $68,000 - $90,000, depending on the age of the vehicle.

Car thieves collect between $10,000 and $15,000 for the theft of an Almera, from certain used parts dealers, police told TnT Mirror.

There is a big market for Almera spare parts, which has forced car thieves to target this model since the foreign-used dealers do not sell parts.

Some of the stolen cars are stripped and the parts are sold to used parts dealers across the country.

One owner said the head lights and tail lights of Almera cars are installed with just clips and are easy for thieves to pull off, as well as body parts.

A new head light costs about $1,200 and owners can buy back their stolen ones from a used parts dealer for about half the price.

Police say that since the model is popular, the stolen cars fit in easily into the market.

A number of them are said to be on the road with false licence plates working as “PH”.

Police said security devices in some cars are of no use because carjackers wait until the driver gets into the vehicle and orders him off at gunpoint.

Investigators said carjackers operate in the Tunapuna, Trincity, Tacarigua areas between the hours of 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Some of them wait outside the homes of drivers when they come out of the vehicle to rob them of their cars.

Police have so far been unable to find the stripping grounds of stolen cars.

Car theft over the years has been a booming trade with close to 2,000 vehicles stolen each year.

Chief Executive Officer of Neal and Massy, Bernard Dulal-Whiteway blamed the increased thefts of foreign-used cars (such as the Almera), on the unavailability of spare parts.

Neal and Massy are agents for new Almera vehicles.

He noted there is no commitment by foreign-used dealers in service or parts, unlike new car dealers who offer two-year warranties and import spare parts.

“We can’t stock parts for cars we do not sell,” he stated.

Dulal-Whiteway said this was one of the reasons new car dealers are calling on the government to put in place legislation to regulate the sale of used cars so that consumers can be protected.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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