Three jailed over ?450k car theft racket which saw 22 swiped
Three members of a big-money car theft racket have been jailed after nearly £500,000-worth of motors were taken from across the Midlands. Martin Islip, Lawson O'Neill and Anthony Stewart were found guilty of conspiracy to steal 22 cars - worth more than £450,000 - across the West Midlands, Staffordshire and Warwickshire in 2019.
Their trial was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic but they have now been put behind bars after being convicted. Islip, 34, and O'Neill, 32, carried out keyless car thefts and mainly targeted Fords.
They stole cars by using blank keys that were electronically-programmed, meaning they could carry out their crimes undetected and without breaking into homes. But the pair were arrested in June 2019 while driving a car containing a number of Ford keys, tools, gloves and items of clothing.
West Midlands Police said the role of Stewart was to collect and transport some of the stolen vehicles to Scotland, where he was arrested while driving one of the stolen cars. The force was able to link all three to a number of car thefts in Chelmsley Wood, Shard End, Yardley, Solihull, Castle Bromwich and Kitts Green.
The trial finally took place in March this year and the men have now been jailed. Islip, of Wheatstone Road, Wolverhampton, was given five-and-a-half years in prison.(Image: WMP)
O'Neill, of Over Green Drive, Birmingham, was given three years in prison. Stewart, 39, of Cedar Road, Glasgow, was handed an 18-month consecutive sentence in addition to an earlier sentence.
West Midlands Police said: "We do not underestimate the impact this crime has on people’s lives and are working hard to bring these offenders to justice. We know the huge inconvenience of vehicle crime on your livelihoods, and personal lives, which is why we're determined to take this action.
"With the support of the public we can continue to tackle car crime and shut down chop shops which act as a market for car thieves. We have launched a major new operation to target serious and organised crime across the West Midlands.
"Operation Target sees West Midlands Police take a stand against a range of serious and organised crime offences ranging from drug dealing and burglary to cyber crime and fraud. Officers will be using local intelligence, seizing goods, carrying out warrants and targeting offenders as part of Op Target."(Image: WMP)
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