Sunday, December 10, 2023

Million-pound chop shop gang handed 46 years behind bars

A chop shop gang operating a million-pound car theft operation, have now all been sent to prison for 46 years for their involvement in the biggest conspiracy Humberside Police says it has ever seen.

The 11 men appeared at Grimsby Crown Court from September through to December for sentencing for their involvement in operating various chop shops across North Lincolnshire. Large quantities of brand new and high-end vehicles such as Land Rovers, Jaguars and BMWs, had been stolen, stripped down and the parts sold and shipped overseas.

Five of the men entered not guilty pleas to the charges against them, with four separate trials all taking place at Grimsby Crown Court, starting in August 2021 and concluding on Wednesday 10 August 2022.

Tomas Bruzikas, 34, of Hiles Avenue, Grimsby was found guilty of Conspiracy to handle stolen goods and Converting Criminal Property and has now been handed a seven year and six month sentence.

Lukas Voveris, 30, of Spencer Avenue, Grimsby was found guilty of Conspiracy to handle stolen goods and Converting Criminal Property and was handed five years and six months.

Guntars Dubrenieks, 30, of Wells Street, Grimsby was found guilty of Conspiracy to handle stolen goods and Converting Criminal Property and was handed five years and seven months.

Giedrius Eimutis, 46, of Mulgrave Street, Scunthorpe was found guilty of Conspiracy to handle stolen goods and Converting Criminal Property and was handed a four-year sentence.

Kantrimas Zukauskas, 44 of Wincolmlee, Hull was found guilty of Conspiracy to handle stolen goods and Converting Criminal Property and was handed seven years and nine months.

Four of the men, all from Scunthorpe, entered guilty pleas to the charges against them at earlier court hearings.

Sarunas Eidininkas, 27, of Somerby Road, pleaded to Conspiracy to handle stolen goods and converting criminal property and was handed a two year and ten month sentence.

Lucas Lidzius, 29, of Ripon Close, pleaded to Conspiracy to handle stolen goods and converting criminal property and was handed five years and three months.

Charlie Rhodes, 25, of Orchard Close, pleading to Conspiracy to handle stolen goods and converting criminal property and was handed a four-and-a-half-year sentence.

Darren Watson, 27, of Queensway, pleading to Conspiracy to handle stolen goods and converting criminal property and was handed a three year and one month sentence.

Following on from the outcome at court, Detective Inspector Mick Keech said: “This was a lengthy and complex investigation into a large scale and sophisticated organised crime group who used a range of tactics including keyless cloning devices to steal vehicles from hard working members of our communities.

“Whilst they may have been operating a £1.2 million business which they reaped the rewards from, they left a devastating impact on the lives of hundreds of people who were left feeling unsafe in their own homes.

“Not only did they violate their privacy by taking people’s vehicles from their homes, they also took away the ability for people to go about their daily lives, leaving many without their main form of transport. Not to mention financial repercussions.

“I hope the outcome at court provides those affected by this gang, and the wider community, some reassurance that they are now behind bars and unable to cause further harm.”

The first chop shop was uncovered by officers in August 2020 on Hebden Road in Scunthorpe, and led to a lengthy and protracted investigation, as Detective Inspector Mick Keech explains: “As part of the investigation, we uncovered six chop shops across North Lincs, all of which had numerous vehicles in various dismantled states and an abundance of car parts.

“When car part dealers operate legitimately, they either keep, or sell the parts. However in this case, due to the vast volume of vehicles the gang were stealing at such a fast pace, they couldn’t dismantle the cars as quick as they were stealing them, and often parts were just being thrown away.

“However, with expert assistance and collaboration with manufacturers, we were able to identify 72 vehicles, stolen from 17 different forces across the country as far north as York and as far south as Surrey.

“Nineteen of the vehicles had been stolen from our force area mainly from the Pocklington area and linked to two-in-one burglaries. All of the vehicles were broken down so we were unable to return them to their rightful owners.”

As the investigation progressed, 12 warrants were executed at residential and commercial properties in Scunthorpe and across the Humberside force area, which resulted in 11 men later being charged with various offences.

Officers seized 208 devices including mobiles and laptops and had a total of over 1,500 exhibits in evidence from car parts to CCTV, with so many departments involved in the investigation, from the Major Crime Team, Operation Galaxy and the Neighbourhood teams, to the investigators in CID, the Serious and Organised Crime Unit, Financial Investigation Unit and Intelligence.

Detective Inspector Mick Keech continued: “It is important everyone remains vigilant and takes steps to protect their vehicle from thieves, whether at home, work or in public areas. There is more advice in regard to crime prevention on our website https://www.humberside.police.uk/protect-your-vehicle

“We are committed to taking down organised crime groups and we will always thoroughly investigate any type of criminality associated with them. These groups are a blight on our society and those responsible will be dealt with and brought to justice.”

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