Organised crime gang found guilty of £5 million car thefts

06/06/2014

Two men, who were members of an organised crime gang, have today, Friday, 06 June 2014, been convicted at Reading Crown Court after an 11 week trial.

The gang is estimated to have made around £5million between 2011 and 2013, in the theft or attempted theft of 33 high value vehicles and the export of 85 high value vehicles.

Amran Iqbal, aged 39, of Derby Road, Beeston, Nottinghamshire, and Andrew Murray, aged 50, of Bannard Road, Maidenhead, were both found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to steal vehicles.

In October 2013, before the trial, another member of the group, Khalid Mahmood, aged 35, of Duffield Lane, Stoke Poges, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal motor vehicles and conspiracy to export motor vehicles out of the country.

Halfway through the trial on 13 May 2014, Irfan Rehman, aged 41, of New Bedford Road, Luton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal motor vehicles.

Two further people, Catherine Claussen and Ghulan Butt, were found not guilty.

Between 01 January 2011 and 23 February 2013, the group used sophisticated equipment and methods to steal new or nearly new high value cars costing in the region of £60,000 to £70,000 each.

These were mostly new Range Rover models such as Vogue, Sport and Evoque, but also included a Mercedes McLaren and a Bentley Continental.

The group gained access to the vehicles with a range of different methods including using accomplices working at airport parking companies, arranging the hire of vehicles, or deliberately damaging the vehicles under the guise of an accident and arranging repairs.

They also accessed some of the vehicles through Murray's Garage; Berkshire High Performance body shop (BHP) in Maidenhead.

The vehicles were stolen from locations all around the country - from Manchester to Lincolnshire and from Poole to London.

Once the vehicles were in their possession the group used diagnostic equipment to programme an extra key for each vehicle.  They also fitted a hidden tracker in the cars.

The vehicles were returned to the owners and at a later date the trackers would be activated.  Once the location of a vehicle was established the group would simply unlock it and drive it away using the extra key they had previously programmed.

The stolen vehicles would then be taken to a storage facility where their identities were changed by altering the VIN numbers.  They were then exported for sale in countries such as Kenya and Uganda and there is evidence that 85 vehicles were exported in this way.

After an extensive intelligence led investigation by Thames Valley Police, code named Operation Sorrel, suspected conspirators were arrested in a wave of strikes across the country.

Land Rover has since changed their software to combat this type of theft and is constantly updating its technology in order to stay ahead of criminals.

The four men are due to be sentenced on a date to be confirmed.