A Croydon resident has been jailed for eight years for handling stolen vehicles worth over £700,000.
Chirag Patel, 39, of Frith Road, Croydon, was sentenced at Croydon Crown Court on Friday October 12.
Judge HHJ Gower commended PC Andy Garland for his superb police work that led to the investigation.
Speaking about PC Garland who identified the first stolen vehicle, Judge Gower said: “It was his sharp eyes and investigative nose and approach which first spotted a stolen vehicle and set this investigation in motion and he receives my formal commendation.”
Patel was found guilty following a five-week trial for conspiracy to handle stolen goods in relation to the stolen vehicles and keys, as well as possession of criminal property in relation to over £440,000 of unexplained cash deposits.
He was arrested at his home address on February 19, 2015.
During a search of his property, officers recovered 26 sets of car keys, as well as lists of vehicles and registrations, machines for accessing on-board computers in vehicles, programming keys and a number of mobile phones, tablets 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 were linked to Patel and subsequently seized, as well as nine sets of keys which had been stolen from Jaguar Land Rover’s plant in Solihull, West Midlands, and a laptop stolen during a burglary in the Streatham area.
Patel had been using these vehicles in an off-the-books car rental business where vehicles were rented out to his contacts.
Acting Detective Sergeant Billy Clough, who led the investigation, said: “Patel played the leading role in a sophisticated operation to handle high-value, stolen vehicles, motivated only by sheer greed.
“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.
“I hope this sentence sends a message that those involved in this type of organised criminality will be pursued robustly.”