A spate of car thefts over the last few months in Chongjin, North Hamkyung Province is said to have been done by military drivers trying to cling onto their posts, according to a source.
The source said some of the thieves were apprehended in an intensive crackdown on car theft carried out from late January to early February by the People’s Safety Ministry (PSM), and subsequently revealed the details.
According to the source, the drivers, in collusion with civilians, stole “servi-cha”, or service cars, and sold the parts, apparently in order to purchase gas and other things they needed to keep their own vehicles running.
Service cars are vans, trucks or buses used to transport people and cargo in lieu of an adequate public transport system.
Even though the PSM in the province apparently launched an investigation into the case, it was apparently unsuccessful because base Party cadres protected the drivers, so now the issue has developed into a tug of war between the military and the provincial PSM.
Speaking on the 7th, the source explained, “The drivers, who are part of a platoon which manages private cars for cadres under the 45th Division of the 9th Corps, which is stationed in Chongjin, hid the stolen cars in a parking lot on-base and sold the parts.”
He explained, “Agents from the Criminal Investigations Section of the PSM tried to access the corps, but 9th Corps cadres including the political commissar and the base National Security Agency head instructed soldiers not to allow them to get onto the base under any circumstances.”
One of the arrested men apparently admitted, “We utilized the fact that the security forces cannot search military bases.”
According to the source, their dire situation drove the drivers to car theft. He said, “An official’s cars projects his pride, so if a driver cannot run his car properly even on condition of having no gas or parts, it is difficult to hold on to that position.”
“The authorities used to turn a blind eye to the military earning money for fuel by supporting foreign currency earning companies or individuals by helping them carry their cargo. However, the military police’s crackdown even on military vehicles has recently been reinforced, so drivers found themselves in that difficult situation,” he concluded.