By Angelos Anastasiou
Two men, a 36-year-old policeman and a 38-year-old night-club owner, were remanded for three days by the Larnaca court on Wednesday in connection with a stolen car scam.
As the lead investigator told the court during the remand hearing, police received a tip that on January 19 the 38-year-old, aboard a black Range Rover reported stolen in the United Kingdom, would meet with a customs and excise officer near the Kalo Chorio roundabout in Larnaca.
Members of Larnaca CID placed the area under surveillance and the 38-year-old promptly arrived, driving the car in question, the court heard.
Following investigation, police determined that the car’s chassis number, displayed on the windshield, did not match the chassis number of the car registered under the Range Rover’s registration number, they said.
When questioned, the 38-year-old claimed he had bought the car from a Paphos-resident, a British woman.
At this point, a customs and excise officer from Limassol arrived at the scene with a friend of his, and when CID members approached the car, the two responded with verbal attacks, investigators told the court.
Taking advantage of the commotion, the 38-year-old put the car in reverse gear and fled the scene, endangering a police officer standing nearby.
Police investigations revealed that the car registered under the suspicious Range Rover’s licence plates was owned by a Paphos-based British woman, who was contacted and confirmed that she was in possession of the legally registered car, which was different to the one driven by the suspect.
The stolen car was subsequently spotted in the evening of January 19, parked in a used-car lot in Aradippou, Larnaca. The lot’s owner said that the car was delivered and parked by the suspect shortly before police arrived.
Further investigation revealed that the car had been stolen in the United Kingdom in March 2012, imported to Cyprus through the Limassol port on March 4, 2012, and delivered to a person in Limassol.
Police inquiries as to how the suspect could have secured access to licence plates corresponding to an identical car, showed that the 36-year-old police officer, who serves at Famagusta police, ran a search in the system for cars similar to the stolen one, earmarking five from the list – among them, the British woman’s car.
Investigation also led police to a tyre-repair shop, whose owner is also licensed to manufacture licence plates.
The shop owner testified that he made the fake plates, on instructions from the 36-year-old policeman, who texted him the request on his mobile phone.
The suspect even asked for the plates to be manufactured using the old system, meaning without the Republic of Cyprus logo and other insignia, which require the verification of the car-owner’s identity.
The two suspects’ lawyers did not object to the remand of their clients.