LTO cracks down on syndicate behind license plate theft
An unprecedented operation has led to the arrest of three personnel of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) accused of being part of a syndicate stealing license plates at the agency’s plate-making plant in Quezon City. The joint operation involved the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
LTO Chief Asst. Sec. Vigor Mendoza II identified the suspects as embossers Jenard Arida and Arjay Anasco, and warehouse staff Valeriano Nerizon, who are all assigned at the LTO Central Office’s plate-making plant. A large-scale manhunt operation has been ordered against Allan Joker Abrigo, another LTO employee, who is believed to be the team leader and alleged boss of the arrested suspects.
“This is a big thing. I understand this is the first time that we were able to crack down on a syndicate inside our plant. We have been hearing a lot of rumors before, but this is the first time, with the help of DILG, that we were able to apprehend them,” Mendoza said in a press conference.
The case started when the LTO Intelligence and Investigation Division received raw information last year about the possible theft of license plates at the agency’s plant. A thorough investigation led to the identification of the three suspects, who were allegedly threatening their co-workers of harm if they would spill the beans on their modus.
The breakthrough came in December when an employee of the LTO broke silence and revealed suspicious activities inside the plant. CCTV footage showed the mastermind or their team leader stealing the segregated plates and sneaking them out of the plant into his motorcycle after his duty.
The suspects were detained in Quezon City and are facing charges of Violation of Article 310 (Qualified Theft) and Article 294 (Robbery) under the Revised Penal Code. Administrative charges will also be filed against them.
The arrested suspects are believed to be part of a grand illegal scheme involving newly acquired motor vehicles through financing. They were allegedly selling license plates at P10,000 per piece, and the LTO is now determining how long and how many license plates have been stolen by these employees.
LTO Chief Mendoza emphasized that there is a syndicate behind these people involved in various serious crimes, and they will run after the mastermind and the buyers. He also pointed out that more employees will be investigated as part of their weeding out of scalawags.
The modus operandi involves acquiring a vehicle through financing and then illegally selling the vehicle using duplicated plates and fake Official Receipt/Certificate of Registration. The LTO is working to dismantle the syndicate and prevent further illegal activities in the future.