Members of a high-end vehicle theft ring have been jailed for more than 17 years after a West Midlands Police investigation uncovered their car cutting den.
Akhtar Zamir, Khuram Razaq and Nakash Javaid stole four luxury Audis in the space of five days last year in Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull before mechanic accomplices Thomas Winkett and Wayne Williams stripped them down at an industrial unit.
Using a key-copying device âˆ’ allowing them to steal security data from on-board computers and program it onto blank keys âˆ’ they drove off with two Audi RS5s, an A5 and an A4 with a combined value of almost Â£200,000.
However, covert enquiries led detectives to the ringâ€™s â€˜chop shopâ€™ in Lyeâ€™s Stour Vale Road and when officers raided the unit on October 4 all five men were arrested and parts from the stolen Audis recovered.
The unit was owned by 23-year-old Javaid and run as a car wash and part-worn tyre business to act as a cover for the crooked enterprise; police search teams found a wall of tyres piled high against the entrance to the cutting workshop.
Three days earlier officers intercepted associates Carlos Hemmings and Adam Leek travelling north on the M6 in a van crammed with body panels taken from a Â£50,000 RS5 stolen from an address in Clifford Bridge Road, Willenhall, on 30 September.
Sparkbrook pair Zamir (25) and 23-year-old Razaq âˆ’ from Gladstone Road and Stoney Lane âˆ’ admitted conspiracy to steal cars and at Birmingham Crown Court on Tuesday (Sept 16) were jailed for four years eight months and three years six months respectively.
Javaid from Beech Roads in Sparkhill and 26-year-old Hemmings from Ivor Road, also in Sparkhill, admitted conspiracy to handle stolen goods and were imprisoned for 25 and 24 months respectively.
Car cutters Williams (32) from Wallows Road in Brierley Hill and Winkett (26) from Norwood Road, Brierley Hill, admitted the same handling conspiracy charge and were both put behind bars for 20 months.
And 31-year-old Leek, from Brean Avenue in Yardley, admitted handling and was given a suspended 12-month jail sentence and ordered to carry out 200 hours of community work.
Sergeant Glenn Marriott heads Operation Transmission, a West Midlands Police taskforce set up to target the emerging threat of sophisticated â€˜key-lessâ€™ car thefts.
He said: “Members of the group toured residential streets on the look-out for top-end Audis and, having identified a target, would return in the early hours to steal them using a key-programming gadget.
“It was a sophisticated set-up and the group worked quickly to strip down the stolen cars and move on the parts âˆ’ in fact body panels recovered from the van on the M6 were from an RS5 stolen in Coventry just 14 hours earlier.
“Police intelligence and covert enquiries identified the Lye unit as being pivotal to the operation and when we raided it we caught them red-handed with the car parts and diagnostic equipment for programming blank keys.”
The group stole an Audi A4 from Daventry Road, Cheylesmore, in the early hours of Serptember 26 last year and three days later drove off in an A5 parked at a house in Melton Drive, Edgbaston.
Later that evening Razaq sent a text message to Zamir saying “fne (phone) meâ€¦found a present” refering to an RS5 heâ€™d spotted on a driveway in Clifford Bridge Road, Willenhall, which was stolen in the early hours of September 30.
And at 1.40am on 1 October CCTV caught members of the gang snatching another RS5 from The Village Hotel in Dog Kennel Lane, Solihull.
Zamir, Razaq and Javaid were all arrested at the transmission unit during the October 4 warrant, whilst officers stopped Williams and Winkett in a taxi in nearby Hayes Lane after the pair tried fleeing the industrial park.