Police have arrested five people on suspicion of smuggling stolen car parts worth more than NIS 1 million to Jordan. Supt. Tzahi Ben-Hamo of the Etgar unit, which was recently reformed to tackle car theft, said on Sunday that most of the goods were discovered at the Sheikh Hussein border crossing just north of Beit She'an, where the drivers transporting the parts would declare only one-tenth of the value of what they were carrying.
The officer added that some of the parts may have ended up in Iraq after crossing into Jordan, due to the high volume of trade between the countries, although police have no proof of this.
When customs officials carried out an examination of the goods, they discovered parts that had been stolen as long ago as 2004.
"We caught four trucks and two pickup trucks that tried to export the stolen goods in the direction of Jordan," said Ben-Hamo. "We believe that the value of the parts on each of the trucks was hundreds of thousands of shekels.
"We investigated the drivers and their documents and they led us to the owners of the goods," he added.
The suspects told investigators that they bought the parts legally in Israel, but they didn't have the necessary receipts to prove this.
"The suspicion is that they knew they possessed stolen parts, because they bought them for joke prices. For example, they purchased a door for NIS 20," said Ben-Hamo. He added that the police have already been able to match some of the parts to cars that were reported stolen.
Following the discoveries, police carried out raids last week at spare-parts centers in the north and the center of the country, and confiscated what they suspected were stolen items.
The suspects are all in their 30s and 40s. Two are from Wadi Ara, one is from Haifa, one is from Tel Aviv and one is from Hebron, said Ben-Hamo.