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September 16, 2011

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Raid on illicit modified vehicles becomes fiasco

A well-planned raid turned out to be a farce yesterday, when city traffic police tried to crack down on several roadside stalls which modify motorcycles, motor-tricycles, mopeds and other vehicles that are used mainly for illegal operations in Putuo District.

It was part of a continuing campaign citywide that aims to seize the sources of the illegal vehicles. This time, however, they came away almost empty-handed.

"Tell the owner to come to us as soon as he comes back," a group of police officers, surrounding a small stall, said to a woman hugging a toddler who kept crying.

Looking back to a police truck, the only confiscated items were a pair of rain shades that were to be rigged on motor-tricycles.

More noticeable were the crowds of onlookers in this community in Putuo's Taopu area, mostly coming from out of town, pointing at the raid team as it failed to accomplish its crackdown.

For the raid, police arranged at least four trucks, expecting to nab rows of vehicles. But two of the three stalls police rushed yesterday morning were closed, with the owners nowhere to be found. Speculation was that the owners were tipped off. Neighbors said they normally see dozens of vehicles of various kinds parked alongside the stalls.

As authorities intended to grab one motor-tricycle they said was illegally modified, an old woman suddenly held the vehicle's handles, unwilling to loosen her grip. Onlookers said the woman, in her 90s, was the mother of the owner.

"We will strengthen the crackdowns and work hard to cut the sources," said Li Xiaojun, deputy chef with district traffic police, facing a local TV station camera.

"More cooperation will be seen among police and the city's industrial and commercial bureau."

Standing alongside was the old woman, who showed no sign of backing off.

Later, officers stopped a small motor-tricycle passing by and put it onto the truck, saying it had no license.

"Why do I have such bad luck?" said the vehicle owner surnamed Tang.

Tang said he bought the tricycle last year for more than 2,000 yuan (US$313) and had never thought of applying for a license - a common practice in the suburban areas.

The city has seized more than 20,000 vehicles this year for illegal operation. But they've barely made a dent in the illegal vehicles, which proliferate in part because of a lack of public transport, especially in suburban areas that have just one or two Metro lines, traffic authorities said.


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