STOLEN vehicles have been modified in some instances and used in robberies.
And police say they are now intensifying their investigations into this new crime trend to pursue other cases of theft of motor vehicle and registration plates that have also been used in robberies in the past.
This was revealed by the Fiji Police Force in an interview as police crack down unsolved cases of stolen vehicles and registration plates.
Following a recent spate of motor vehicle thefts, police public relations manager Ana Naisoro has advised vehicle owners to properly lock their vehicles at all times.
"Investigations have led to the discovery of operations where the vehicles are modified and in some occasions are being used in robberies," Ms Naisoro said.
"We received a report of a stolen vehicle recently and upon a search, found it in a garage and it had a change of colour."
"The vehicle was being given a different colour when it was found in the garage," she added.
Ms Naisoro said they were also stepping up their investigations on other vehicles that remained missing.
"We are looking at this emerging trend of crimes and police operations are looking into the other cases of stolen vehicles and registration plates," she said.
Director of operations Senior Superintendent of Police Rusiate Tudravu said this was not new.
"They change the number plates and paint the vehicles," SSP Tudravu said.
He added there was always the possibility of other stolen vehicles ending up in garages and being re-painted or stripped.
"I can't really confirm if other stolen vehicles have ended up in this way (modified) but these are some of the things being done," he said. "At times, they prop up and this is something that is highlighted every morning in our 24-hour briefings."
SSP Tudravu said police needed the assistance of the public to crack down such criminal activities. He urged garage owners and others to inform police if they were suspicious about vehicles that were brought to their garages. While police could not say how many stolen vehicles and registration plates are still missing, they did confirm that there were some cases yet to be solved.