MINI GANG JAILED AFTER MET RAIDS
Police take action to fight back against classic car thieves
Two thieves who targeted classic Minis, cut them up and sold them for spares have been jailed for a total of six-and-ahalf years after a sting by the Metropolitan Police.
More than £125,000-worth of stolen parts were sold via the online auction website eBay on two stores called ‘S_ Wkrs’ and ‘SNS_Salvage’, both owned by the men. They were caught as a result of undercover operations and raids where 13 Minis were found.
CCW understands there are more classic car raids imminent in London and the West Midlands.
Stephen Fiddimore and Sam Metten stole the Minis from Kent and Essex between August 2014 and May 2015. They cut up 11 of the cars while stripping them for parts and used their eBay business to sell these components to unsuspecting customers.
The thieves ran the business from a garage in Horton Kirby, Kent, and were caught after police raided six addresses. The men used their specialist knowledge to break in and hotwire the cars so they could drive them away. Their skills allowed them to steal classic Minis quickly and quietly.
Detectives believe the pair may have been responsible for the theft of more than 40 vehicles across London, Kent and Essex.
Fiddimore, from Kent, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal motor vehicles and was sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment. Metten of Essex pleaded not guilty but was found guilty of conspiracy to steal motor vehicles after a week-long trial and jailed for three years. Sentencing took place on 11 April at Inner London Crown Court.
Former Metropolitan Police officer Dr Ken German, communications director of The International Association of Auto Theft Investigators, says: ‘It takes a long time, from start to end, to catch these criminals and the police have taken a step up. They now have multi-tasking, university-educated officers fighting car crime in specialists units.’
David Hollis, chairman of the British Mini Club, is delighted with the news, and says: ‘It’s a sad state of affairs how easy it is to open up an online shop and trade like this in 2016. At least the jail terms are lengthy and should be a genuine deterrent to copycats. Loads of Minis were being stolen in the Midlands a few years ago and nothing happened, so it’s good to see the police catching the criminals this time.
‘It’s a terrible thing and I really feel for the owners. I’m sure some of those Minis were their owners’ pride and joy, and maybe even family heirlooms.’
The Met’s message
Detective inspector Caroline Clooney, of the Met’s Organised Vehicle Crime Unit says: ‘These men systematically targeted the owners of classic Minis across the south east. Many of the vehicles had been lovingly restored and discovering that their cars had been stolen obviously caused owners much distress and inconvenience.
‘I am pleased with the sentences and hope it sends out a message that the Met is serious about tackling car crime and will always seek to destroy the activities of individuals involved in it.’
Butchered Minis littered the thieves’ lock-ups.