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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The PA's officlal car theft ring

From YNet, published on December 8:
In a report earlier this week, a senior Palestinian police officer boasted that following their new deployment, Palestinian police were able to confiscate a total of 180 stolen Israeli vehicles. An Israeli reading this report would think: Look at that, Mahmoud Abbas is starting to put the house in order.

But let’s wait a moment. What do they mean by “confiscated?” What would a Swiss police officer do if his people seized vehicles stolen in Italy? We can assume he would call his counterparts in the Italian police force and hand over the vehicles to them. However, Palestinian police “confiscated” the vehicles.

In other words, the Palestinian police force is short on vehicles, so it confiscates stolen vehicles to meet its own needs. Up until yesterday, a vehicle would be used by the person who stole it, or by the person who bought it from the thief. As of today, this vehicle is being used by a Palestinian police officer.

If the Palestinian police force was able to find 180 vehicles fitting for confiscation within a week, it means there are thousands of stolen Israeli cars out there that have not been taken apart.

Even in Nablus or Jenin one cannot drive around without a license plate, and in order to receive a vehicle permit anywhere in the world you need to arrive at some government office, present the documents of the new vehicle, and explain how you got it. So what does the Palestinian car thief say when he comes to the Palestinian government official and asks for a permit for a stolen Israeli vehicle?

My guess is that he tells the truth. Hello, I have a vehicle that was stolen from the Jews, how much do I need to pay in order to register it as a Palestinian vehicle? The official then offers his congratulations. Now fill out this form and pay the fees. Please fill in the thief’s name, date of theft, type of vehicle, and date of last emissions test in Israel. Please go over to the police now and fill out another form. We must have order here. The police officer may ask you to pay another fee. Good luck.

I’m certain there is an official procedure for this, with orderly registration. In fact, when an amateurish thief stole the vehicle of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef by mistake, a call was made to a senior Palestinian official and the car was returned within a few hours. How did they know where to find it? That’s very simple. The stolen vehicles are registered over there. The thieves pay fees. Everything is orderly.
UPDATE: Soccer Dad, who has a tremendously prodigious memory, recalls this article from 2001 that shows that things really don't change.