'Syndicate' 5 held for car theft

2012-07-05 12:59

Johannesburg - Five men believed to be part of a car-theft syndicate have been arrested in Garsfontein, Pretoria police said on Thursday.

Warrant Officer Annabel Middleton said the men were arrested on Wednesday after patrolling police stopped and searched a vehicle which had been reported as stolen. "They found several items used for car-breaking inside the vehicle."

The men are expected to appear in the Hatfield Magistrate's Court on Friday.


The cars-to-order syndicate is elieved to operate from Soweto, The Star reported on Thursday. According to the newspaper the men, all of them from Soweto, were found "in possession of a Toyota master key and a system modulator override which, once plugged in, would override any car security system, such as immobilisers and alarms".

Police also recovered old engine computer boxes, keys, four cellphones, licence plates and screwdrivers. The cellphones reportedly contained several MMS picture messages of cars with question marks next to them.

The Star reported that sources close to the investigation believed this was the way the cars were identified and "ordered".

Middelton could not immediately confirm the newspaper's information.


Toyota SA, however, has pointed out to Wheels24 that:

• No overall master key exists that would give Toyota, a vehicle owner or any other party access to any Toyota vehicle. Each vehicle is issued with its own master key and any replacement key would require the vehicle’s original master key to enable duplication.

• In cases where a vehicle’s original key is not available, Toyota SA Motors requires a new electronic computer unit (ECU) and master key set for the specific vehicle. This is ordered from Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan and is linked to the vehicle’s Vehicle Identity Number (VIN).

• Toyota does not manufacture or possess a so-called “system modulator override” system.

• The company has been made aware of illegal override systems for all vehicles, not only Toyota vehicles. Toyota has changed its vehicle coding and immobiliser system to block any attempt at system override.

  • Toyota will continue to improve its security systems as it is made aware of any attempts at forced entry by criminal elements.