Two Birmingham men have been jailed today for a string of Range Rover thefts across the UK.
Liaquat Ali, aged 29, from Birmingham was sentenced to three and a half years and disqualified from driving for four years. Nathan Bates, aged 27 also from Birmingham was jailed for 15 months and disqualified for 18 months at Birmingham Crown Court.
Ali was arrested after he had attended an address in Wolverhampton on December 1st 2013 to look at a car that had been advertised for sale.
Ali – along with another unidentified man– told the householder they needed to check the car for faults and inserted an electronic device into the vehicle’s on-board diagnostic slot.
When the men left, the car seller discovered the keys to his Range Rover Evoque no longer worked. He then went back to the men, who were sat in their Vauxhall Insignia with a number of Range Rover keys, and challenged them - at which point they drove off.
“We were quickly able to identify the vehicle that Ali was using which we were then able to trace back to him” said Detective Constable Rob Clarke from West Midlands Police’s Force CID.
He added: “He was arrested and we were then able to link him to a number of other offences across the country. His technique was to arrange viewings of Range Rovers for sale and once with the vehicle, he’d attach a tool - used by locksmiths to re-programme car keys - to the diagnostic slot.
“He’d tell the owner he was checking the car’s history or mileage, but he was in fact re-programming a new key, in order for himself and Bates to return while the owner was asleep or at work and steal the car.”
Officers quickly connected him and Bates to three other Range Rover thefts, one on November 13 2013 from Redditch, another on November 24 2013 from Leicester and a third from Surrey on November 28 2013.
At a hearing on November 28 2014, Ali pleaded guilty to all four thefts, with Bates admitting the Redditch, Leicester and Surrey offences.
Detective Constable Clarke said: “Ali never wanted to be caught with the stolen vehicles and would pay Bates to take the risk of driving them away once they had been stolen from the victim’s home address.
Ali thought that he was above the law but a combination of information from the public and thorough checks by our intelligence analysts led to his downfall. Unfortunately, this is not a new method used by criminals and there were around 1,234 ‘keyless’ car thefts between April and December last year.
We are working hard to reduce these thefts by regularly stopping high value cars to check they are not stolen and advising legitimate owners of the steps they can take to protect their vehicle.
However, I would like to take this opportunity to remind car sellers that if anyone comes to see your vehicle and asks to plug something into it then don’t let them. There is no need for them to do this and any checks they want to do should be carried out at a garage.”