Dubai: Licence plates rigged with dye packs to prevent thieves from stealing the plates and using the same in major crimes is an idea worth pursuing, said the Dubai Police chief on Tuesday.
The idea of installing dye packs to spray brightly coloured dye paint on surprised thieves was presented at a brainstorming session hosted by Dubai Police for police and other law-enforcement officials across the UAE.
Those attending the session heard that there were 799 cases of licence plate thefts across the country in the last three years.
Officials said criminals often attach the stolen plates to cars used for a variety of crimes — ranging from major robberies and posing threat to state security to murders and criminals posing as police officers.
Major-General Abdullah Khalifa Al Merri, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, supported the steps to reduce number plate thefts in the country.
“We want to stop the theft of plate numbers in the country. We want to shape the future and find ideas to fight the crime. There will be suggestions in the session to study and then submit to the authority concerned to approve it,” Maj-Gen Al Merri said.
Representatives from criminal investigation departments in the UAE, Dubai Public Prosecution, RTA, Dubai Municipality, State Security and private sector specialised in manufacturing plate numbers discussed the problem and find solutions.
Major-General Khalil Ebrahim Al Mansouri, assistant commander-in-chief for Criminal Investigation Affairs of Dubai Police, said licence plate theft is a priority that needs solutions.
“We had five topics in the sessions to find out best solutions for the problem, challenges and locating the areas which witnessed many thefts in the country. Thieves use stolen plate numbers in other major crimes,” Maj-Gen Al Mansouri said.
Lieutenant-Colonel Adil Al Joker, head of investigation at Dubai Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID), said plate theft is a very serious offence, especially when stolen plates are used in the commission of major crimes.
“Plate numbers of cars, trucks, buses and motorbikes can be stolen and placed on other cars for bigger crimes. By law — in some circumstances — the punishment for number plate theft can reach up to life in jail in the UAE,” Lt-Col Al Joker said.
One of the crimes aided by stolen plates, which police have noticed of late is suspects posing as police officers with stolen plates on their vehicles and stopping people for extorting money.
“The victims of such crimes give us the plate numbers but we discover later that it [the plate] was stolen. Plate numbers can be used in various crimes which can disturb the security in the country,” he said.
Colonel Mohammad Aqeel Ahli, deputy director of Criminal Investigation at Dubai Police, noted that the Dh14.7-million jewellery heist at Dubai’s Wafi Mall in April 2007 was committed by thieves in cars that had stolen licence plates to avoid them being tracked.
“Such thefts are challenging to policemen. It may look like a minor crime but the impact can be major as thieves can use it for major robberies just like the famous Wafi robbery when the suspects used stolen plate numbers,” Col Aqeel Ahli said.
How it will work
Corporal Eisa Al Beloushi presented the idea of using the dye pack on plates.
“It would be wired to the car’s battery. When a thief tries to steal the plate, the activated alarm system would send out a loud noise and a dye-pack would throw the paint on the thief. It is a very cheap solution,” he told Gulf News.