KOTA KINABALU - Less than two weeks after facing a charge of car theft, an unemployed man was back to his old ways again.
The 30-year-old man was one of three culprits arrested by city police on Saturday following a spate of car-jackings here, all involving Toyota Hilux four-wheel drive pick-up trucks.
Kota Kinabalu acting police chief Supt M. Chandra said the first suspect was detained within 15 hours after a car-jacking on Friday when thieves drove off with three brothers, aged between four and 10, inside the vehicle in Menggatal town.
The thieves had stolen the Hilux while the boys' mother was in a market to shop for Hari Raya groceries.
A vegetable seller later found the three terrified boys huddled at a bus stop near the town.
Acting on a tip-off, Supt Chandra told reporters yesterday that police detained the first suspect aged 26 in an unnumbered house at a squatter settlement in Damai near here at about 1.30am on Saturday.
He said the second suspect, aged 28, was also arrested at the same time and location.
Following police investigations, the main suspect, aged 30, was arrested at the Bandaran Berjaya bus terminal at about 6am on the same day.
Police also recovered the stolen Hilux which the thieves had hidden in Kampung Minintod at Inanam near here.
Supt Chandra said all three men, from the northern Kota Marudu district, tested positive for drugs.
The main suspect, he said, was initially arrested on July 7 for car theft and was subsequently produced in court and was later released on bail.
Police believed the man orchestrated the car theft in Menggatal and used the two accomplices to dispose of the stolen vehicle.
"Our suspicion is that they have been selling stolen vehicles in the interior areas of the state," Supt Chandra said.
He said the main suspect had admitted to the police of his involvement in the thefts of two Hilux vehicles at Asia City in the downtown area and in Luyang.
Supt Chandra said they believed the men might have been involved in four other thefts of similar vehicles in the city since early this year.
The modus operandi was similar, he said, citing that the vehicles were stolen after their owners left the engine running so they could dash off for a quick errand.
The three suspects have been remanded until tomorrow.