Essex Police have rumbled four thieves who set up a secret ‘chop shop’ to strip down the vehicles they had stolen.
The gang moved in to a disused warehouse in Wickford and used it to dismantle four Ford Transit vans they stole in Thurrock. They were caught after stealing a van in Witham which had been fitted with an advanced tracking system.
30-year-old Danny Garwood of Josling Close in Grays, 20-year-old Warren Hampshire of Laird Avenue in Grays, 22-year-old Joe Higgs of Stephenson Road in Tilbury and 26-year-old Ryan Lee of Russell Road in Tilbury all admitted conspiracy to steal a motor vehicle at Basildon Crown Court.
Garwood was jailed for 30 months, Lee for 18 months and Higgs for 10. Hampshire was sentenced to 10 months at a young offender institution.
DC Chris Bailey of Grays CID led the investigation. He said: “This was a long and complex case because the four men originally pleaded not guilty and denied any involvement. But because the last vehicle stolen had the sophisticated tracking system which took us straight to the warehouse and the stolen vans we were able to link the men to all the offences.
“Faced with the evidence in court they entered guilty pleas and the judge gave them all custodial sentences. These thieves preyed on tradesmen and businesses who used the vehicles every day but thanks to GPS technology they are now behind bars.”