Operation ‘Lockdown’ launched to tackle keyless car theft

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Operation ‘Lockdown’ launched to tackle keyless car theft

More than 80 people have been arrested as part of a police operation to tackle keyless car theft.

Land Rovers and hundreds of vehicle parts, believed to have been stolen and destined for sale abroad, were also seized during the crackdown.
The operation was launched by the Met Police on Tuesday. Investigating officers believe the rise in keyless thefts is the result of criminal gangs increasingly using a device which bypasses the vehicles electronics, allowing them to drive away without the owner’s key.

Around 800 officers from police forces across the south east monitored 20 arterial roads, stopping vehicles believed to have been stolen or linked to other crime.

More than 200 vehicles were seized, two of which were believed stolen during the operation codenamed ‘Lockdown’.
In total, 16 people were arrested for theft of motor vehicle.

A further 68 people were arrested for offences including possession of offensive weapons, burglary, money laundering and driving while disqualified.

In a joint, intelligence-led operation with ACPO Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (AVCIS) at the Port of Felixstowe, seven containers filled with cars and vehicle parts believed stolen were examined.

Five Land Rover Range Rovers, believed to have been stolen from Surrey, South Woodford and Islington were found in containers destined for Kenya.

Hundreds of vehicle parts including engines were also found in the containers destined for Cyrpus.

It is believed that the parts - some of which appear to belong to 12 BMW's reported as stolen from east London - would have been further exported to other countries to be sold.

No arrests have been made in relation to the containers at this stage. Enquiries and searches are ongoing.

Detective Chief Superintendent Carl Bussey, lead for Operation Endeavour, said: “We began opening the containers on Tuesday. They are so jammed with cars and vehicle parts that we are still extracting the contents.

“In one container, bikes, also believed stolen, were packed around vehicle parts to disguise the true contents of the container from any inspectors.

“I launched Operation Endeavour by emphasising the need for drivers to secure their vehicles in order to try and prevent keyless vehicle theft. This, combined with the joint enforcement work with our colleagues in the Home Counties and AVCIS, will help us reduce vehicle theft and arrest the organised criminals behind it.”

Detective Inspector Wayne Cooke, of AVCIS, said: "AVCIS has been supporting our Metropolitan Police Service colleagues with our ports intelligence unit staff identifying opportunities for examining and recovering vehicles and vehicle parts stolen through keyless methods.
"As part of this campaign we have successfully disrupted a number of high value vehicles heading to overseas countries. Recovering vehicles such as these in Operation Endeavour offers opportunities for further investigation with particular emphasis in tackling organised crime groups involved in vehicle criminality
"This sends the clearest message to criminals that agencies are working together to tackle keyless offending and put the fear of crime back onto the criminal."

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