(Image source from: NDTV.com)
An Indian-origin man has been sentenced to eight years in jail by the United Kingdom court for the handling of 19 stolen high-value vehicles worth over 7,00,000 pounds.
Chirag Patel, 39, was found guilty of conspiracy to handle stolen goods and ownership of the criminal property at the extremity of a five-week trial at Croydon Crown Court last Friday.
"Patel played the leading role in a sophisticated operation to handle high-value, stolen vehicles, motivated only by sheer greed," said Acting Detective Sergeant Billy Clough, who led the investigation for the Metropolitan Police.
"He even attempted to convince the jury that he was a legitimate businessman, who had simply been unlucky in obtaining such a vast quantity of stolen items, but the jury saw through this and convicted him of being the key player in a significant criminal enterprise," he said.
Patel was imprisoned for conspiracy to handle stolen goods in relation to the cars and keys, for which he received eight years' in jail. He was sentenced to three years' imprisonment for owning criminal property and in relation to over 440,000 pounds of unexplained cash deposits which had been identified from two personal bank accounts in his name.
Both the judgments will run simultaneously. "I hope this sentence sends a message that those involved in this type of organized criminality will be pursued robustly," the Met Police said.
The tribunal was told that in February 2015, Patel reported to police force that his Porsche had been purloined. Initially, Patel resisted giving his residence address, rather providing details of his parent's address. When he eventually gave his own address, officers attended the property as part of their probe into the stolen car.
Here they discovered a number of high-value vehicles in the basement car park. Officers identified that one of the cars had a personalized number plate identical to one seen earlier on a vehicle outside Patel's parent's address.
Further inquiries by officers established that the five vehicles in the car park had fake number plates and each was later confirmed to have been purloined. Shortly, Patel was arrested at his address.
During a hunt of his possessions, Met Police officers recovered 26 sets of car keys, likewise lists of registrations and vehicles, devices for accessing onboard computers in vehicles, programming keys and a number of tablets, mobile phones, and laptops.
Following a detailed investigation, led by officers from Croydon's Serious Acquisitive Crime Unit, a total of 19 stolen vehicles with an estimated value of 728,000 pounds were linked to Patel and later seized, also nine sets of keys which had been stolen from Jaguar Land Rover's plant in Solihull, West Midlands, and a laptop purloined in Streatham area of south London during a burglary.
During the trial, judge H H J Gower commended the work of the Scotland Yard officer, Police Constable Andy Garland, whose work identified the first stolen vehicle.
The police subsequently discovered that Patel had been using the vehicles in the running of an "off-the-books" vehicle rental enterprises, where vehicles were rented out to his connections and associates.
The vehicles had been purloined by unknown individuals during burglaries and keyless thefts across London between October 2012 and January 2015 and were stored at or near addresses owned by Patel and his kin, or with links who looked after the vehicles for him or rented them from him.
The identities of the cars were hidden using legitimate insurance details of vehicles which had been written off on official records.
By Sowmya Sangam