If you find your vehicle stolen, call your bank before you alert the cops -- chances are your bank's recovery agents whisked it away without telling you that you don't have to make your equated monthly installments anymore.
In several raids conducted across New Delhi, the district police in East Delhi have recovered more than 200 stolen motorcycles. Investigations into the recovered vehicles have revealed that most of them were taken away by recovery agents employed by banks. And this is clearly against the Supreme Court guidelines.
The gangs involved function like professional auto-lifters and use duplicate keys to make their recoveries, mostly at night.
"We have found the involvement of several financiers and some multinational banks in these cases. They employ recovery agents, who are given a free hand to recover the vehicles of people with outstanding equated monthly installments. The gang stole the vehicles without intimating their owners. Owners, on discovering the disappearance, informed the police control room.
"Several FIRs were lodged in this fashion. Of the 200 recovered vehicles, we are aware of at least 125 such cases," a senior police official told rediff.com.
In raids conducted in the last few days, the police recovered stolen two-wheelers from backyards owned by the recovery agents, who mostly operate from the outskirts of the capital like Najafgarh, Narela and Alipur.
Recovery agents have specifically been instructed by the Supreme Court that they do not have the right to take away vehicles of defaulters without first giving an application to the additional district judge in the area.
The judge has to then pass an order, which has to be forwarded to the local police. The apex court guidelines say that if the defaulter does not give up his vehicle despite the order, agents can take help from the local police, but cannot function on their own.
"The agents do not have the right to steal the vehicles or use force or threaten the defaulters under any circumstances. We suspect that financiers and banks work hands in glove with the agents. It is a huge racket and we are looking into all aspects of the case," a senior police official said.
Police officials said several prominent banks are under their scanner for their involvement in the case. The police are yet to make any arrests, and claim they are investigating the structure of the gangs involved.