With Police Help

    With Police Help

    The stolen car recovery industry is thriving in Rio
    with over 50 companies making around $6.6 million a year.
    It works like this: the vehicle is stolen and hidden
    until the owner gets paid by the insurance company.

    "This may not be an ideal number but we would like to have only 40,000 stolen
    vehicles this year. It may not be the best, but it is a considerable reduction for a state
    that used to have 51,000 stolen cars a year." This is Rio State’s secretary of Public
    Security Josias Quintal’s admission to a poor state of affairs in the wake of a report
    that Rio has the worst record of all southeastern states for recovering stolen cars.

    According to the CNVR (Cadastro Nacional de Veículos Roubados—National Registry
    of Stolen Vehicles), a private company from São Paulo specializing in recovering stolen
    cars, Rio’s police find only 37 percent of the cars stolen in the state. Quintal rejects
    the numbers saying that his police are finding 47 percent of the vehicles, even though he
    agrees that there is still room for improvement.

    With 2.2 million vehicles, Rio is second only to São Paulo, which comes in first with
    almost 9 million vehicles. São Paulo is recovering 46 percent of its stolen cars,
    exceeding the state of Minas Gerais—the third largest fleet, with 2 million
    autos—with a 39 percent recovery rate. Espírito Santo, by comparison, is recovering
    77 percent of the vehicles stolen in that state, according to CNVR.

    Rio’s numbers don’t look good even when the whole country is considered. Nationally the
    state ranks as the sixth worst place in the nation for recovering a stolen car. The tiny
    state of Tocantins is first on the list with a mere 16 percent recovery rate,
    followed by Rondônia (24 percent), Acre (29 percent), Alagoas (35 percent) and Roraima
    (36 percent). But while all these states combined had 766 vehicles stolen in 1999, Rio
    alone had 48,000.

    For Quintal, insurance companies should take part of the blame for the high incidence
    of stolen cars. He criticizes insurance companies for the practice of offering policemen a
    reward equivalent to 18 percent of the car’s value for each recovered vehicle. A popular
    car like the Volkswagen Gol 1000, for example, is worth around $1600 when found.

    Press reports have already detailed links between the police and these recovery
    companies. According to a special investigative report by Rio’s daily O Globo, the
    stolen car recovery industry is thriving in Rio with over 50 companies making around $6.6
    million a year. It works like this: the vehicle is stolen and hidden until the owner gets
    paid by the insurance company. As a chief of police told Rio’s daily O Dia:
    "There’s a policeman who finds four cars every month. This is very strange."

    It’s believed that a criminal alliance between policemen and agents from Detran
    (Departamento de Trânsito—Traffic Department) is the main cause for an explosion in
    car thefts in Rio. According to recent reports, they are responsible for more than half of
    the 48,000 stolen cars in the state. Apparently, except for going out and stealing the
    cars themselves, the public servants do it all including "cloning" license
    plates. Cloning is the practice by which cars receive the license plate number of another
    vehicle. There are stories of car owners who find another vehicle with the same plate as
    they have.

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