SHAH ALAM - Only in their teens, they were already on drugs, forming gangs and stealing motorcycles.
Over four days, the police brought down three syndicates of mostly teenage motorcycle thieves as the district clamps down on widespread vehicular theft here.
The 12 suspects, including a teenage girl, have been actively stealing motorcycles off the streets for about a year now - stripping their parts and selling them for profit, said Shah Alam deputy OCPD Supt Ruslan Abdullah.
They would later discard the rest of the motorcycles in rivers and in the jungles here. The suspects were aged between 18 and 22, he added.
"We arrested them during a series of raids under an operation codenamed Ops Rejang. Based on our intelligence, we picked up the suspects from their homes in Kg Padang Jawa, Desa Kemuning and Port Klang.
"We also recovered several motorcycles that had been reported stolen, which had been parked at various places around the district.
"We believe they were going to strip these for parts to be sold off," he said, adding that the three groups had been responsible for at least 40 thefts this year.
He said the suspects were all young and were either dropouts, unemployed or odd job workers. At least four of them tested positive for drugs.
"Maybe that is why they turned to crime like this. They just steal whatever brand of motorcycles from parking lots and strip them for parts to sell.
"You can make at least RM500 (S$188) from selling parts from a single motorcycle," he said.
Police recovered about RM50,000 worth of motorcycles and spare parts, adding that some of them were reported stolen in Subang Jaya, Kuala Langat and even as far as Ipoh.
Supt Ruslan said the police were now going after the remnants of the three syndicates, after they arrested the group leaders, and were also investigating if any local mechanics had been buying the stolen parts from them.
He said vehicular theft was one of the main contributors to the crime index in Shah Alam but reported that clampdowns on thieves had resulted in a 26 per cent (71 cases) drop in cases from January until now, compared to the corresponding period in 2014.