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Vehicle theft syndicates in Malaysia are no longer limited to exporting cars to the most accessible neighbouring country, Thailand – their movements are believed to have expanded to Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, according to a Bernama report.

Once the stolen vehicles have reached those countries, it would be especially difficult to recover them, said a source who brought forward the syndicates’ way of operating. “It is believed that the cars stolen in Malaysia will be transported via the sea by container ship from Singapore. Then, it will stop at its first destination, Thailand. It is also believed that Laem Chabang Port, in Thailand is their main destination [to unload the stolen vehicles],” he continued.

These three countries which share land borders with Thailand have syndicates with strong networks among themselves, which complicates the authorities’ efforts in tackling cross-border crimes such as these. “If [the vehicles] reached those countries, the chances of finding them are as good as nothing,” he said, adding that information on the stolen vehicles in the three Indochina countries would also be hard to obtain.

The source adds that depending on the situation, parts of the stolen vehicle would be dropped off in Thailand, while the rest would continue on its way to the other countries. There is also a possibility that the vehicles would make their way those countries by land if they were not sold in Thailand.

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All is not lost, however, as Thai authorities found and handed over 22 stolen Malaysian vehicles worth over RM2.2 million to Malaysian police, while last year Thai authorities seized 18 vehicles believed to be smuggled by the theft syndicates via Laem Chabang Port, the source said.

The source said that those 18 cars were believed to be part of 43 luxury vehicles from Malaysia that were smuggled to Thailand by way of a container ship. “However, the remaining 25 car failed to be traced until today,” he said.

Four-wheel-drive vehicles were popular among Myanmar’s black market, while luxury cars and MPVs were in demand in Cambodia – allegations have also surfaced claiming that the stolen vehicles with new registration details were used by high ranking police, armed forces and government officers in some Indochina countries.

Last year, Malaysia ranked sixth in the world for vehicle theft, the most stolen being the Proton Wira and the Toyota Hilux second.