A brazen ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ gang have been jailed for stealing high-end cars by using sophisticated software to break into keyless Range Rovers, worth a combined £3million.
The high-tech thieves targeted more than 120 vehicles worth as much as £60,000 each over a 12-month period, and were locked up for a total of more than 46 years.
Using key programming technology to steal vehicles including Range Rovers, Mercedes and BMWs, the gang of six men and one woman made their getaway cars look like minicabs – complete with TfL private hire stickers – to commit the thefts.
Manjit Sandhu orchestrated the gang who bought specialist equipment used by locksmiths to bypass keyless cars’ security systems in a matter of seconds.
Heena Bux, 21, found cars to break into and arranged for Khuram Zaman, 20, Mohammed Islam, 20, and Geoffrey Cairns, 55, to drive them away.
They also burgled car keys from homes in the east and west of London and drove the owners’ vehicles away from their driveways within minutes.
The vehicles were then shipped in containers from Britain around the world, to places including Africa and Eastern Europe, between March 2015 and August last year.
Police got wind of the crook’s plans and started watching their homes.
On August 17 last year police raided the Blakesley Arms pub in Newham, east London, run by gang leader Manjit Sandhu’s dad – finding car keys, a key programmer, ‘blank’ keys and a lock-picking tool.
The 32-year-old ring leader even committed one offence on the same day he received a suspended sentence for being involved in the theft of another car in an unrelated incident.
In one theft, some of the offenders stole a BMW after breaking in to a house to get the key, but were unaware that the stolen car was fitted with a dash cam that captured images of them as they got in and out of the car.
Sandhu of Hornchurch, east London, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to steal at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday after he was caught on his own CCTV system leaving home to commit the crimes.
He was jailed for 12 years on Wednesday, which included two years for the activation of a suspended sentence as he was previously convicted of vehicle theft.
Appearing alongside Sandhu, co-conspirator Islam, of Forest Gate, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to steal as was Cairns, of Romford, and jailed for three years.
Cairns was jailed for three years and six months.
Mahmood, 19, of Forest Gate was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to steal as was Faisal Khan, 23, of Forest Gate, east London.
Khan was sentenced to four years and six months with Humzah Bhariwala, 23, of Forest Gate, found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary and handed an 18-month term.
Mahmood was sentenced to seven years, six months’ imprisonment along with a further four months’ to run consecutively for an unrelated charge of possession of drugs and mobile phones whilst on remand in prison.
Buz, of Leytonstone, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to steal as was Zaman, of Walthamstow.
Zaman was locked up for four years, six months and Buz was given a total of nine years, six months’ imprisonment, which included two years for the activation of a suspended sentence having previously been convicted of burglary.
Detective Inspector Caroline Clooney, who leads the Met’s Organised Vehicle Crime Unit, said: ‘This was an extremely prolific and well-organised criminal gang.
‘They brought distress to many victims whose homes they broke into, who not only lost their vehicles but in many cases were traumatised by the thought of someone having been in their house while they slept.
‘Although the case involved over 120 offences, it is clear that this team were responsible for an even greater number of crimes.
‘Almost all of the houses that were burgled had uPVC front doors that had not been double locked, allowing the offenders to gain entry very quickly using simple tools.
‘I would urge all householders to ensure that their front door is correctly locked at night – this means not only lifting the handle on a uPVC door, but also using the key to lock it.
‘Unless it is locked with the key, the door remains vulnerable to the method employed by the criminals in this case.’
News source Daily Mail