Specialist unit recovers £1 million of stolen car parts
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A specialist unit dedicated to returning stolen vehicles to their rightful owners and vehicle examination recovered £1 million worth of cars and parts last week.
Across one of its most successful weeks, our Stolen Vehicle Intelligence Unit, which frequently seizes stolen cars across Essex within hours of their theft, identified a haul of numerous complete stolen vehicles and the remains of others known to be stolen.
The unit recovered high-end cars including a Rolls Royce, a Bentley Bentayga, alongside several Range Rovers and BMWs.
In recent months they have located and recovered a range of Ferraris and Aston Martins.
A Rolls Royce Cullinan recovered during recent operations was worth more than £360,000 alone.
The team, consisting of PC Paul Gerrish and PC Phil Pentelow, supported by Police Staff Hannah Gerrish, will examine the vehicles and use the intelligence gathered to hunt down other missing cars.
The seizures take the unit’s total value of vehicles recovered throughout 2023 to an incredible £12 million.
PC Paul Gerrish said:
“We know car-owners across Essex rightly want to know and understand what their police force is doing about vehicle theft. “The answer is: ‘The best we can with the resources we have available’. "Every year, we track down more stolen vehicles and as we do, we build up a bigger and better intelligence picture. “Our work is dedicated to the disruption of organised criminal gangs and we make sure car thieves are never comfortable in Essex. “We aim to make this a hostile county for car thieves to operate in. “Our work stretches beyond recovering individual stolen cars and encompasses the wider network of criminality behind each theft.”
The team’s work speaks for itself, with 15 ‘chop shops’ – the places stolen cars are stripped of their parts – dismantled this year already.
The unit is supported by Hannah Gerrish, who studies the thefts to look for patterns of offending and works with the team on a regular basis.
This year the team has also intercepted almost 50 shipping containers – all full of stolen vehicles and parts – destined to leave the country.
The Stolen Vehicle Intelligence Unit recovered or identified a record 626 stolen vehicles or parts of stolen vehicles in 2022 – a 30% increase on 2021.
Once a car is taken, thieves may look to quickly sell it on – even for way under the market value – strip it for parts, or ship either the whole car or parts of the car to areas including the Middle East and Africa.
There, the vehicles can be sold for two or three times more than they would cost in the UK and the parts market is vast in these distant countries.
Thieves or handlers of the stolen vehicles may also obtain false or cloned identities, then sell the vehicles on to unsuspecting members of the public in the UK or distribute them to other criminals.
Last month three men were arrested as part of an investigation into the theft of £640,000 worth of stolen vehicles following the team's work.
The operation, which was intelligence-led, saw the stolen vehicle intelligence unit, the operational support group and the dog section attended a unit in Charfleets Industrial Estate, off Shannon Way, Canvey on Wednesday 24 May.
During a search of the unit, officers found evidence and items of significance to the investigation, including vehicles which had been reported as stolen from London, Surrey, Thames Valley and Essex.
Three men all aged in their 20s were arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods.
They have been released on conditional bail until August whilst our investigation continues. It will be led by detectives in Canvey CID.
PC Pentelow added:
“Our work doesn’t just encompass the recovery of high-end cars. "Our dismantling of chop shops and our intelligence led-work takes into consideration vehicles of all values and types. "We are very aware that victims rely on their vehicles as far more than a mode of transport. "In most cases your car is the second-highest value purchased item in your life, and people work hard to get them. "We do not accept when criminals show no care or consideration for this fact. "We also find it unacceptable when these criminals happily put other members of the public at risk by using these stolen vehicles on public roads. “The public can rest assured tackling organised vehicle crime is our sole focus in SVIU.”
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