Ten men jailed for stealing expensive cars in London, England

A ten-strong criminal network who were stealing high value vehicles by means of residential burglary, ringing them and then selling them on to innocent members of the public have been jailed for a total of over 20 years at Croydon Crown Court.

The ten sentenced on Tuesday 17 August 2010 were:

William Back, age 26 (dob 14/12/1983) of HMP High Down, who pled guilty to conspiracy to steal, was sentenced to four years.

Jamie Webb, age 27 (dob 19/06/1983) of Hurst Road, Sidcup, who pled guilty to conspiracy to steal, was sentenced to three years and four months.

Jason Webb, age 23 (dob 23/11/1986) of Milborough Crescent, Hither Green,who pled guilty to conspiracy to steal, was sentenced to two years and eight months. A four month suspended prison sentence for a previous offence was also reactivated. Total imprisonment: 3 years.

Freddie Webb, age 25 (dob 05/10/1984) of Swanley Lane, Swanley, who pled guilty to conspiracy to steal, was sentenced to two years and ten months.

Guy Harbord, age 27 (dob 16/07/1983) of NFA, who pled guilty to conspiracy to steal, was sentenced to one year and eight months. A one year suspended prison sentence for a previous offence was also reactivated. Total imprisonment: Two years and eight months.

Perry Brown, age 23 (dob 06/11/1986) of Constable Mews, Bromley, who pled guilty to handling stolen goods, was sentenced to nine months. Brown also pled guilty to possession of Class B drugs (cannabis) with intent to supply and concealing criminal property (£20,000 dye stained cash) and was sentenced to one year and six months months imprisonment (consecutive) for these offences. Total imprisonment: Two years and three months.

Tony Nicholls, age 40 (dob 01/05/1970) of Arabin Road, Brockley, Lewisham, who pled guilty to conspiracy to steal, was sentenced to one year and six months. A six month suspended prison sentence for a previous offence was also reactivated. Total imprisonment: Two years.

Leigh Spinks, age 24 (dob 03/12/1985) of NFA, who pled guilty to conspiracy to steal, was sentenced to one year and eleven months.

Anthony Murray, age 27 (dob 13/05/1983) of Albert Road, Croydon, who pled guilty to conspiracy to steal, was sentenced to one year, suspended for two years. He was also given a twelve month supervision order and required to carry out 200 hours unpaid work.

Kirsty Burgess, age 28 (dob 12/02/1982) of Bromley Road, Beckenham, who pled guilty to handling stolen goods, was sentenced to a twelve month community order.

Confiscation proceedings have commenced against William Back, Jamie Webb, Freddie Webb and Perry Brown under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

On 21 July 2009 the Metropolitan Police arrested 17 people across South London in a co-ordinated operation targeting individuals suspected of involvement in car burglaries. The operation raided 16 addresses in Bromley, Bexley, Croydon, Lewisham and West Kent and recovered a large quantity of dye stained cash, a handgun, seven motor vehicles, a variety of motor vehicle spare parts, a quantity of drugs, and numerous mobile phones. The seventeen people were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to burgle and conspiracy to handle stolen goods.

The operation started as a result of intelligence developed by officers from Bromley Police and the MPS’s Stolen Vehicle Unit about a criminal network that were commissioning the theft of cars. They ranged from Aston Martin’s and Mercedes through to more standard family cars. Fifty stolen cars were recovered in the lead up to the operation. The majority were no more than a year old and were taken in break-ins that occurred overnight whilst the owners were asleep upstairs.

The ringing network were using burglars to break into homes, mainly in the Bromley area, and steal the car keys and then take the car of front drive or road. The cars that were stolen in the burglaries were later cloned and sold on for under the market price. Innocent members of the public were then buying them. Due to the vehicles still being owned by the insurance company or the original owner the new purchaser was left completely out of pocket when police recover them.

Back’s criminality encompassed time in prison as a serving prisoner (for another vehicle ringing case), from where he was coordinating the activities of co-defendants by mobile phone. He then absconded from HMP Ford in May 2009 and carried on his criminal activities, only to be arrested in June 2009 and returned to prison. He is the defendant who was primarily responsible for the actual ringing of the stolen vehicles.

Spinks was released on police bail prior to charge and absconded to the Netherlands. A European Arrest Warrant had to be obtained, whereupon he was arrested by the Dutch authorities and extradited back to the UK.

Brown’s conviction for concealing criminal property relates to approx £20,000 of dye stained bank notes that were the proceeds of an armed robbery and a quantity of drugs found at his property. Approximately £10,000 in untainted cash was also seized from him under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Detective Superintendent Martin Huxley, Acting Borough Commander at Bromley, said: "The disruption of this criminal network is as a consequence of an intense operation by Bromley Police and the MPS Specialist Crime, Stolen Vehicle Unit. As vehicles have become more difficult to steal due to enhanced security, police have seen an increase in this style of burglary that is particularly worrying as victims are usually indoors and asleep when entry is gained, either by force or inserting an implement through letter boxes, targeting car keys to steal vehicles.

I am pleased to announce that as a result of these arrests there has been a significant reduction in car key burglaries, however this method is not unique to one criminal network and we still see these offences occurring on the borough. We must not become complacent with security, so please ensure your doors are double locked, keep car keys out of sight of the front door and if you are buying a car be cautious of anything being sold for under the market price and ensure you get a used car check completed prior to purchasing it".

Acting Detective Inspector Malcolm Ellis, from the Economic and Specialist Crime Command, said: "By working with local borough police in Bromley, the Stolen Vehicle Unit have removed a prolific organised criminal network. As a result of these convictions, members of the public will be less exposed to buying a stolen or ‘rung’ car in the area. Our message is clear; to protect yourself and your money – whenever you are buying a car make sure you do due diligence and research thoroughly".

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