By Ifeanyi Okolie
Both Policemen, passers-by and reporters who converged at the Oduduwa office of the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, were last Wednesday shocked to their bone marrows when the duo of Ikechukwu Obodoeze (36) and Daniel Ogwu (35), suspected to be members of a notorious car snatching gang in Lagos, displayed their expertise in the use of master keys to steal cars.Â
They mesmerized on-lookers with a master key in their possession by freely unlocking almost all the cars around the vicinity when they were called upon to demonstrate their trade.
The duo ran out of luck at Alausa area of the state after they succeeded in stealing N1 million from a man who parked his car inside a mosque.Â Â They had cleverly broken into the Honda car after the owner re-checked all his doors to ensure that they were securely locked and went into the mosque to pray.Â Â The owner, Bashiru Mohammed, a civil servant had barely started praying inside the mosque when his car security alarm sounded loudly.
He reportedly raised his head only to notice that somebody was tampering with it.Â He rose up immediately and raised alarm.Â Unfortunately, before people could race to stop the intruder, he had cleverly taken the N1 million he kept inside the car, thrown it into a waiting car and zoomed off through he main gate to the mosque.Â Efforts made by the crowd to stop them by locking the main gate failed as they succeeded in escaping from the scene.
However, fate played another game on the fleeing thieves when a team of policemen from Alausa division who were on routine patrol were alerted and they swiftly chased and intercepted the bandits and arrested all of them. The leader of the gang, Daniel Ogwu who spoke to reporters narrated the story of his life and ended up given vivid details of their operational methods.
According to him, â€œAfter my secondary school , I started working at the Tin_Can Island Port in Apapa, Lagos and I was pushing out vehicles from the port.Â Â While I was doing that,Â I learnt how to open car with master keys and steal from it.Â At least, I have used the key to open more than 30 cars which I burgled.
â€œI met Ikechukwu at Ajegunle area of Lagos StateÂ where he used to sell Laptops.Â He told me that the laptops were sent to him from abroad.Â Â Â I use to make more than N80,000 to NM60,000 from every operation.Â We normally trail some of our victims from the bank before we attack themÂ Â But this one that got us into trouble happened whenÂ Â Ikechukwu and I were driving along Alausa area and we saw this man.
When he came out of his car parkedÂ at the premises of a mosque, we watched keenly and noticed the way he was checking the knob of his doors to make sure that they were properly locked.Â Â This aroused our suspicion that he had money in his car.
After the driver walked into the mosque,Â I moved in swiftly and opened the door with my master keyÂ while Ikechukwu was waiting in his car.Â The alarm wasÂ Â blaring seriously but I ignored it and kept on searching for the money.Â Â Later,Â I found the money at the back seat of the car and made away with it in our waiting vehicleâ€.
On his part, Ikechukwu confessed that he was introduced into stealing by Daniel some time in February 2010 when he needed money to support his exporting business which was not doing well.Â Â â€œWhen I met Daniel, I told him that I desperately needed to make quick money to resuscitate my business which was almost dead.Â Â Â Â He then assured me that we can make money with the master key and be able to escape quickly with my car without being caught.Â Â I accepted it because of my condition.
I used to export food stuffs to Germany, London and South Africa but I lost some of my money after the last supply I mad so,Â I needed money to returnÂ to my business.Â Â I actually made moneyÂ because I have followed them to rob with my car and I was given N40,000 and the lowest I got was N20,000.Â Â But for now, I am yet to raise enough money before I was arrested.
I regret dragging myself into this mess and I will repent if given a second chanceâ€.
Mr. Bashiru,Â the owner of the car told Crime Alert that his car was boggled while he was praying in side a mosque and N1 m belonging to a friend who asked him to give it to people working for him atÂ his construction site was stolen.Â Â Â While I was praying,Â I heard the alarm of my car blaringÂ uncontrollably and I rushed out to see what was happening.
I then saw Daniel running away withÂ Â the money I kept inside my car.Â Â I promptly caledl for help as I saw him leaving in awaiting car.Â Other people around also called the police and about 15 minutes later, two police patrol vans came in with the two suspects and my money was recovered and returned to me.
The Lagos State Police Command Spokesman,Â Frank Mba who paraded the suspects before newsmen said they met their end afterÂ police men from Alausa police Station got a distress call from the victim that his car have been burgled and N1m stolen.
The police responded swiftly,Â Â intercepted the robbers and recovered the money intact.Â â€œ The victim was praying in the mosque while the suspects were busy removing N1m from his vehicle but the car alarm alerted the victim.
Mba adviced that people should endeavour to install security gadgets in their cars most especially,Â tracking devices.