Police seize Range Rovers stolen from Islington bound for Kenya on cargo ship
This is a haul of luxury Range Rovers and BMW car parts stolen from London and the Home Counties and bound for export abroad in huge shipping containers.
Police swooped on the containers at Felixstowe port this week and seized five stolen Range Rovers and hundreds of vehicle parts destined for Cyprus and Kenya.
In an operation to target organised crime gangs engaged in “keyless” car thefts, officers found one container with two £80,000 Range Rovers stolen from homes in London and Surrey in January.
Criminals used old mattresses and dozens of stolen bicycles in an attempt to hide the vehicles from border inspectors.
The haul included parts from 12 BMWs stolen in east London in recent weeks which were bound for Cyprus. The five Range Rovers, stolen from Islington, South Woodford and Surrey, were destined for Kenya.
Police believe the haul is just part of a multi-million pound racket involving Eastern European gangs stealing cars in London and the south east and exporting them abroad.
Last year more than 6,000 cars and vans were stolen across London by gangs using “keyless” theft methods – around 17 a day.
Detectives say cars are stolen to order in London and immediately driven to the Home Counties where many are stripped down at locations known as “slaughter houses” or “chop houses” in as little as 30 minutes.
From there, the vehicle parts are exported as far afield as Africa where engine parts fetch as much as £1,000 for an engine while whole vehicles are sold for £10,000.
Earlier this week the Met revealed that Ford and Mercedes vans are the most commonly stolen vehicle using keyless methods, followed by BMWs and Land Rover models, including Range Rovers.
In a week long operation around 800 officers from the Met, Kent, Essex, Hampshire, Surrey and Thames Valley police forces monitored 20 arterial roads in a “lockdown” of London to check for stolen vehicles.
Police seized 222 cars and vans, the majority for offences such as having no insurance wile two were believed to have been stolen. One van had been used for a burglary and was loaded with stolen pedal cycles and in another car a man was arrested for possession of a knife.
A total of 84 people were arrested, 16 of them for being allegedly involved in keyless thefts of vehicles.
Detective Chief Superintendent Carl Bussey, who is leading the operation codenamed Endeavour, said: “We began opening the containers on Tuesday. They are so jammed with cars and vehicle parts that we are still extracting the contents.
A BMW and car parts in a transit container seized by police at Felixstowe
“In one container, bikes, also believed stolen, were packed around vehicle parts to disguise the true contents of the container from any inspectors.
“This is not the end, but just the start of Operation Endeavour. As well as encouraging drivers to secure their vehicles to prevent keyless vehicle theft we will be targeting the organised criminals behind these thefts.”