Hundreds of officers' raids uncover high end stolen cars

Stolen cars

Article By Ellis Whitehouse: Dawn raids across Essex uncovered £5million worth of stolen high-end cars.

Police smashed into garages and properties to seize Range Rovers, BMWs and Mercedes as 450 officers targeted 22 locations simultaneously yesterday morning.

The officers were targeting people they suspected to be involved in the same gang which steals high-end vehicles from around Essex and London.

The raids took place at locations in Basildon, Benfleet, Hockley, Grays, Navestock and Waltham Abbey along with several raids in London. The police believe approximately 90 offences have been committed across Essex and London between November 2018 and February this year.

Locations for these include Billericay, Brentwood, Epping, Ingatestone, Witham, Loughton and Shenfield. During the raids, 12 people from across the locations have been arrested in connection with vehicle theft – plus around £100,000 in cash, programming equipment used to handle stolen cars, and at least 16 vehicles believed to have been stolen.

At one location in London, a cannabis factory was also found, which had approximately 200 plants.

Chief Insp Lewis Basford, the acting Superintendent for West Essex, involved in handling the case, praised the officers for their work on the day. He said the investigation began with a stop and search in Loughton for a low level crime, but exposed a wider network of potential suspects. He said:

“The investigation started in November 2019 and it’s an accumulation of Essex Police, British Transport Police and the Met Police coming together for a series of searches at properties across London and Essex. We started to work collaboratively to target the same suspected group as we have today. “So through intelligence sources that we use to get information on active groups, as well as investigations and stop checks we have been carrying out for the past month. We have been really narrowing this down to this group and bringing together the three police forces and collaboratively looking and targeting them as a collective rather than as individual forces. These groups have no boundaries or borders and what we do with these types of investigation is the same; there’s no boundaries or borders to investigations. This one will show that collaboratively we work together, we share that information and it shows over three forces coming together to deal with an organised crime group.” Chief Insp Basford said he was receiving regular updates of more discoveries from the raids."

He added:

“We’re getting updates coming in by the minute, we’re up to around £100,000 in cash that’s been recovered. There has been key programming equipment found that’s essential for these types of individuals to change the car’s identity and then sell them on to other places around the country. It’s as big as we expected. It was through the sharing of another force that the links came to be made. “Clearly it’s one suspected group of many that will be active at this very moment in time. I think the message today is that we have gone through different districts and different policing areas. What’s going to happen is collaboratively you can offend in London or in Essex but we will come together to pool those offences to get convictions for them.”

Those arrested remain in custody for questioning. The raids followed months of collaborative work from several different organisations including the Government Agency Intelligence Network. Anyone with information that may help can call 101.

Article By Ellis Whitehouse, The Echo