Stolen vehicle unit recover over 700 vehicles in a year

Crime / Sun 28th Jan 2024 at 09:41am

THE Stolen Vehicle Intelligence Unit have had another record-breaking 12 months after identifying or recovering more than 700 stolen vehicles with a combined value of £27m.

The team of PC Paul Gerrish, PC Phil Pentelow and analyst Hannah Gerrish frequently seize stolen cars within hours of them being taken, examine them, and use the intelligence they’ve gathered to hunt down other missing vehicles.

Highlights of the team’s work include retrieving more than £1m of vehicles in a single week after intercepting shipping containers that were hiding cars including a Ferrari and a Range Rover belonging to Premier League footballers, and a warrant in Canvey Island that led to three arrests and the discovery of £640,000 of cars.

Since the start of 2021, the team have recovered or identified more than 1,800 vehicles worth £58.5m and investigated 106 chop shops – garages where stolen cars are dismantled or given false identities. 

“We are continuing to dismantle the organised criminal networks behind these thefts. We’ve tracked down a record number of vehicles in the past year and recently we’ve had three very big jobs where we’ve recovered huge hauls of cars,” said PC Paul Gerrish.

Despite the media attention that has followed the recovery of high-value vehicles, the majority of the team’s work involves retrieving the hatchbacks, saloons and vans that are a familiar sight on the UK’s roads.

“We are seeing a trend at the moment of thieves targeting family cars – Hyundais, Toyotas, Lexuses – and pushing them back out into the market with false identities,” said PC Gerrish. “These are the vehicles that make a huge difference to people’s daily lives.

“It’s very satisfying when we return a car to a family who need it to drive the children to school, or we take a van back to someone who relies on it for their job when they thought they’d never see it again.

“We know what to look for and we know how and where these gangs operate. We will continue to disrupt their operations and arrest those responsible. Through Operation Ignition we are putting more resources into tackling car crime and in the last couple of days we uncovered another chop shop and made two more arrests.”

The team have worked with manufacturers including Jaguar Land Rover, Ford, BMW and Mercedes to improve vehicle security and PC Pentelow said there are simple steps to take if you’re worried about the security of your vehicle.

“Learn about your car’s vulnerabilities. There are videos online where you can find this information out. The website Secured by Design has recommended safety devices for your car – it may be additional immobilising, OBD protection or Faraday bags for keys, but this is model specific. At the very least, consider investing in a Disklok for your steering wheel.

“However, the biggest vulnerability is leaving your car unlocked. Double lock your car and check it. We see CCTV of thefts where thieves try the car door and it’s unlocked.”

Follow the Essex Police Stolen Vehicle Unit on X @EP_SVIU.

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