Carnapping syndicate

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

IS THERE a carnapping syndicate composed of Korean nationals operating in Metro Cebu?

I pose this question following intelligence reports that the suspected culprits in most of the recent carnapping cases involving Hyundai Starex vans has been traced to a group of young Korean nationals.

According to police records, more than 10 Starex vans have been stolen since January in Metro Cebu. Most of the carnappings happened in Cebu City and Mandaue City. There were also cases in Lapu-Lapu but these were not reported, according to the police source.


Before the Sinulog, the grey Starex van of Philippine Basketball Association legend Ramon “Mon” Fernandez and his wife, TV 5 station manager Karla Kintanar-Fernandez, was stolen from their residence in Kasambagan, Cebu City. The vehicle has yet to be recovered.

The carnapping was caught on tape by a neighbor’s CCTV. Based on the footage, some Korean nationals were seen in the vicinity around 4 a.m., or around the same time the van was taken. Their presence in the area was unusual.

A police intelligence officer assigned at the Mandaue City Police Office, who is currently working on these cases, confirmed the involvement of a Korean’s syndicate in the carnapping based on witnesses’ testimonies or on those who claim they have knowledge of the incidents. One report said some of these Korean nationals did the actual carnapping. They also reportedly have contacts with local criminals and they reportedly finance the latter’s operations.

I talked with a ranking police officer assigned at the PNP Regional Office 7 over the weekend and he was alarmed by the rise of carnapping cases in the metro. He said these cases are usually rare in Metro Cebu, considering the province is an island and it is difficult to transport a carnapped vehicle to other areas even though the anti-carnapping permit has been lifted.

Cebu’s ports and sub-ports can easily be alerted to be on the lookout if a carnapping takes place. It’s different in Luzon and Mindanao. A carnapped vehicle from Metro Manila can easily be taken to as far as Laoag or even to Cagayan Valley, or a carnapped vehicle from Davao City can easily be transported to Zamboanga or Maguindanao via land trip. It’s very hard for authorities there to locate a vehicle once this is stolen.

Why are carnappers targeting the Korean-made Starex vans? The theory is this vehicle is easy to open using an improvised key and it is easy to transfer vital parts to another Starex. Once this happens, it is hard for authorities to trace the engine and chassis numbers because they are original and have not been tampered. Besides, the Starex van is reportedly a favorite among Koreans nationals.

Neutralizing or busting this carnapping syndicate poses a big challenge to authorities. While we welcome foreigners to visit or invest in our country because it helps promote tourism and investment, we don’t want them to engage in illegal activities right in our place. Some of them are killing each other as a result of a personal grudges, business rivalries or involvements in shady deals.

Maayo pay mamauli mo sa inyo kay sa magsamok-samok mo dinhi.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 18, 2013.


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