Po­lice take ac­tion to fight back against clas­sic car thieves

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - News Analysis - Mur­ray Scul­lion

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.

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