The Police in the Rwizi Region have arrested six people suspected to be part of a gang involved in plucking motor vehicle number plates and extorting money from their owners.
According to Samson Kasasira, the Rwizi Region Police Spokesperson the suspects demand sums ranging from Shillings 500,000 to 100,000 from their victims in exchange for revealing the location of their number plates.
The suspects have been identified as Geoffrey Muhwezi (27), Vicent Mwebesa (25), Conrad Mwiine (24), and Bright Atwijukire (22), all residents of Mbarara City. These arrests were made in a joint operation by the Police, Army, and other intelligence agencies.
As a result, 16 number plates were recovered from various areas, including Greater Bushenyi, Sanga in Kiruhura, and Koranorya in Mbarara City. Kasasira explained that the suspects often steal number plates from locations with large gatherings, such as weddings, burials, religious conferences, and some resort to jumping over residential fences.
The stolen plates are then concealed in gardens and animal farms. He explains that investigations show that most crimes reported in the last two months involved the use of phones registered under innocent peoples’ names. Criminals acquire these phone numbers by exploiting unscrupulous employees of telecom companies, who misuse clients’ National Identity cards without their consent to register multiple lines. Subsequently, these lines are sold at a reduced price to criminals.
Kasasira urges everyone to verify with their telecom providers if any phone lines are registered under their names but not in their use and to promptly deregister such lines. Rebecca Mukite, the Public and International Relations Manager of the Uganda Communication Commission, acknowledged the issue of multiple SIM card registrations using a single national ID card. Telecom companies have been instructed to devise measures to regulate this practice.