Motorcycles become favorite target for robbery gangs in Homs governorate
Homs – Orwah al-Mundhir
Thefts in the central governorate of Homs have turned into an organized phenomenon practiced by professional gangs and are accompanied by an almost complete paralysis of the role of the police force in the government of the regime.
Theft of motorbikes is one of the most common thefts due to its ease of theft and its high price, which further complicated the situation of the people in the countryside and the city as it is the only means of transportation that remained within reach of the majority of the people in light of the unprecedented high prices of cars and the weak purchasing power of the population.
The favorite target
Theft and armed robbery gangs target motorcycles in isolated places, as they are stolen from in front of homes or shops or through robberies at gunpoint.
Fayez al-Kanj, from the town of Kafr Laha in the al-Houla Plain in the countryside of Homs, told Enab Baladi that the matter of motorcycle theft has evolved to a level resembling mafias, for within hours, several motorcycles are stolen in the same neighborhood without anyone being able to catch any of the thieves.
Al-Kanj added that the residents of the area no longer travel the blocked roads for fear of burglary and theft, as thieves are often armed and take motorbikes from their owners by force.
The police stations of the regime’s government ignore the repeated incidents of theft, and their work is limited to collecting bribes in return for organizing the documents that prove the stolen items, according to witnesses from the area’s residents.
Anwar al-Kaada, of al-Rastan city, told Enab Baladi that the District Directorate and the police station do not take any measures to curb thefts, but rather they take 25,000 Syrian pounds for each investigative file that is being prepared.
Motorcycle owners are forced to go to the police station and open an investigation regarding the theft of their bikes, “which will not return to them,” as al-Kaada put it, so that they will not be exposed to any future problems if the bike thieves commit any violating act through them.
The prices of new motorcycles are rising, and their price starts from $600 to $2,500, according to the type of bike, its engine capacity, model, and year of manufacture, while the prices of used bikes are estimated according to the cleanliness and durability of their engine, from $200 to $2,000.
Stolen motorbike-selling networks
Motorcycle thieves send the stolen bikes to other governorates to sell them there or send them to the Lebanese borders, where mechanic workshops hide the chassis and engine numbers and then resell the bikes again as “contraband” goods.
Jihad al-Sheikh, owner of a motorcycle maintenance workshop, told Enab Baladi that stolen bikes have their well-known markets in each governorate, as the stolen motorbikes are sent from Homs to be sold as “contraband” in Damascus and vice versa.
According to al-Sheikh, the regular bikes registered in the Traffic Department are transported to the Wadi Khaled area near the Lebanese border, where the chassis and engine numbers are removed, and then they are re-entered to the rest of the governorates as “smuggled” bikes that entered from Lebanon.
The only option
Rural residents generally depend on motorcycles for their transportation and daily necessities, as they are easy to move around and consume less gasoline, and their price is low compared to the prices of cars.
Ghassan al-Hamoud, from the town of Talbiseh in the northern countryside of Homs, told Enab Baladi that motorcycles are the only means of transportation that rural residents can rely on after the deterioration of their financial situation, as there is no internal transportation in the countryside that connects urban neighborhoods with each other or with neighboring villages, which pushes people to rely on themselves in finding suitable means of transportation.
Al-Hamoud added that motorcycles are the only means that guarantee access to agricultural lands, as rugged dirt roads prevent cars from driving through, not to mention the high consumption of gasoline by cars when compared to motorcycles.
What makes motorbikes the most popular option is that the rural roads of Homs were severely damaged due to the military operations that took place in the region during the period of control of the opposition factions over the region, as none of the roads leading to the towns or connecting between villages have been repaved since the entry into the region of the security “settlement” agreement in 2018, which facilitates bikes traffic compared to cars.
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