A 31-year-old suspected robber arrested for allegedly being a serial car thief, on Wednesday confessed that he was a kleptomaniac, who had been stealing since childhood.
Joshua Tabiti, a driver and father of two, was arrested by operatives of the Zonal Intervention Squad (ZIS) of the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), Zone II, Onikan.
Tabiti was paraded yesterday alongside his alleged accomplices Oluseye Arokoyo, 34, Ahmed Alli, 24 and the receiver of the stolen vehicles, 31yrs old Moses Ofoke.
It was gathered that the suspects were arrested after their mobile phones were tracked and told that they needed cars.
A source told The Nation that the suspects stole three vehicles the day they were caught, adding that 26 vehicles including 11 traced to Ondo State and three gotten from Delta, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Nasarawa states had been recovered.
Although police claimed the gang had stolen over 26 Toyota Camry cars from Oworoshoki, Bariga and Somolu areas of Lagos, they admitted to have taken part in the theft of about 11 since March.
According to Tabiti, he had done everything possible to quit stealing without success, adding that his parents also tried their best to stop him.
He said: I started doing this job after I was sacked for stealing my boss’ N200,000 where I worked in Victoria Island. My friend introduced me to car theft in March. I have stolen 11 vehicles from Oworonshoki, Bariga and Somolu.
“What we do is to go out around 2am. A man cuts a master key for us to steal Toyota cars. We open the car and kick-start the ignition. We don’t rob at gunpoint. We got the key for N1000 or N2000.
“After stealing it, we send the cars to Ondo to two buyers. The first car we took was a Nissan Salon car. We sold it for N100,000. The other one was a Toyota Camry which we sold for N200,000. Others we sold for N300,000. We were four but three were arrested. The other man has fled. We usually share the money. I used my own money to rent a house and bought household items.
A barber turned robber, Ali said he knew Tabiti at his barbing saloon, adding that the latter lured him into the crime with promise to give him funds for his mother’s memorial.
Ali said: He came one day and said my shop was boring. I was thinking of how to raise money for my mum’s remembrance when Joshua said he would assist me. The first time he went alone. Other times I followed him. I followed him to Ondo State twice to deliver some of the stolen cars.
“He told me about the master key and how they steal the car. We go out around 2am. We always monitor streets to avoid security presence before going to rob.
A former guard, Ofoke, said he provided information to the gang on streets where vehicles were parked and there were no security.
He said: This is my first time of following them. The barber told me I was always wearing one clothe and he could help me out of my situation, He told me I should take them to streets without security. The very first day I followed them was the day we were caught.
Arokoyo, a resident of Igbokoda in Ondo State, said he received seven vehicles from the suspects.
He said: I am a driver. I sold some of the cars and used others to work. I did not know they were stolen until we were arrested. They told me the vehicles were from customs. One of them said he was a soldier. I bought some of the cars for N100,000 and I sold for N250,000. The ones I bought N300,000, I sold for N400,000.
“It was Joshua who called me that he wanted to sell a vehicle. The numbers he gave me were those of a policeman. And that was how we were arrested.
Parading the suspects, AIG Ibrahim Adamu commended the ZIS operatives for the feat.