Man jailed after gang's keyless car theft sees £89,000 Range Rover pinched from driveway
PUBLISHED: 09:41 26 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:41 26 November 2018
A 32-year-old was caught in Potters Bar after the gang he was part of used an electronic device to steal an £89,000 Range Rover from a driveway.
Standing outside the property where the car’s owner was asleep, the gang could use the scanning device to pick up the unique security code from the keyless car’s entry fob inside.
It meant that the car, a Range Rover Vogue, could then be opened and, with its push button start, driven off in less than 60 seconds.
Marius Brazauskas, who is Lithuanian, appeared for sentence for his part in the theft at St Albans Crown Court.
Resident Judge Michael Kay QC told him the offence was now known as “keyless car theft” and told him: “It’s a sophisticated way of stealing a car which doesn’t need a property to be entered into in order to steal the key.
“It’s a matter of some concern that there have been many cases before this court involving organised groups of men from Lithuania who are committing this type of offence.
“This was a group or gang activity to target high value cars.”
In the past, gangs have stolen high value cars and then shipped them abroad.
Brazauskas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and theft of a bank card.
He also admitted driving without insurance and not having a licence.
Charles Judge, prosecuting, told the court: “It is what is known as a keyless car theft.”
He described the device as “reprogramming equipment” which had been used to “bypass the security system for the high value vehicle”.
It meant that the thieves didn’t have to break into the property in North London where the entry fob for the car was being kept.
The court was told it was on the night of July 18 this year when the car was taken off the driveway while the owner was asleep.
He was mystified when he got up the next morning to see his car gone, but the entry fob still in the house and no signs of a break-in.
But checking CCTV footage from outside the house, he was able to see a man walk up to his car and its indicator light suddenly come on before it was reversed off the drive and driven off.
Mr Judge said within hours of the theft, the Range Rover’s registration plates had been removed and false ones put on to disguise its identity.
It was driven to Potters Bar and parked up in an isolated spot in Bridgefoot Lane.
That same night Brazauskas, of Prospect Road, Cheshunt, was stopped by the police in Potters Bar behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta which had false registration plates fitted.
He had with him a drill and a bank card which he said he’d found earlier and, as a result, he was arrested on suspicion of going equipped to steal.
When his mobile phone was checked, it showed he had been checking a map for Bridgefoot Lane.
Mr Judge said police officers checking the ANPR sytem had picked up the Ford Fiesta and the stolen Range Rover driving in convoy through Potters Bar that night shortly before Brazauskas’s arrest.
“Clearly they were travelling together following the theft,” he said.
Mr Judge said the Range Rover was worth £89,000 and he said no one else had been arrested in relation to the theft that night.
The court was told the defendant had a previous conviction back in Lithuania for smuggling cigarettes and, since arriving in this country, had two convictions for fraud by false representation.
Sentencing him to 22 months behind bars, Judge Kay told Brazauskas: “I can’t say if you were the leader of this group, but you played a significant role in it.”