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Raids and arrests as police probe dozens of keyless Range Rover thefts

Nine people have been arrested after a series of dawn raids by police investigating the thefts of 70 high-value cars.

Metropolitan Police say a gang of thieves were stealing cars – the majority being Range Rovers – from people’s driveways in South East England by using key fob cloning technology.

A spokesperson said: “Detectives have arrested nine people following a series of early morning warrants targeting a criminal gang believed to be responsible for the theft of at least 70 high-value cars.

“Officers from the North East Area’s CID, supported by the Organised Vehicle Crime Unit and the Territorial Support Group , executed search warrants at 10 residential addresses in London, Essex and Hertfordshire in the early hours of Wednesday, 17 March as part of a proactive operation targeting an Organised Crime Network (OCN) that detectives believe are responsible for the theft of at least 70 high value cars, with the majority being Range Rovers, worth a combined total of more than £1.5million.

“As a result of this morning’s warrants, nine people have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to steal vehicles and conspiracy to convert criminal property.

“They have been taken to an east London police station where they remain in custody.

“Detectives believe the OCN is responsible for stealing, cloning and fraudulently selling high-value vehicles, with the first theft dating back to November 2019.

“Vehicle cloning changes the identity of a vehicle and can be as simple as adding stolen number plates.

“A joint investigation by the North East Area’s CID and the Organised Vehicle Crime Unit have linked at least 70 high-value vehicle thefts to the group, with cars stolen from people’s driveways in London, Surrey, Kent, Essex and Hertfordshire. The majority were keyless car thefts – where thieves use a device to capture the key fob’s signal to trick the car into opening.

“Detectives believe the OCN routinely cloned and registered vehicles and fraudulently sold them in London and Essex.”

Detective Constable Tom Jenkins, the investigating officer from the North East CID, said: “We have listened to what the public have told us and we understand that the theft of a vehicle, especially from your own driveway, is extremely distressing and an area of policing that the community want us to focus on.

“For many months, we have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to build evidence against the Organised Crime Group we believe to be responsible for the theft and fraudulent resale of at least 70 high-value vehicle to enable us to make our arrests today.

“I hope this shows the community that we take this crime type very seriously, and we will do everything in our power to bring those responsible to justice.

“I’d remind people with electronic car keys to keep them away from doors and in a signal-blocking pouch when not in use to prevent thieves scanning it to open and steal your car nearby.

“I’d also urge those buying cars to remain vigilant. If you buy a stolen car, not only would it result in you losing your money and having no car, but you could be arrested for handling stolen goods.

“When buying a vehicle, always check the DVLA V5 document and make sure the Vehicle Identification Number on the vehicle is the same as on the document.”

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