‘Prolific’ Hornchurch and Upminster thieves jailed after helping to steal almost £3million worth of cars
- Credit: Met Police
A “prolific and well-organised” gang of car thieves have been jailed for a total of 46 years after police raided a pub ran by the ringleader’s dad.
Operation Brasshand targeted thieves who broke into London homes at night to steal car keys before making off with almost £3million’s worth of cars in more than 120 offences between March 2015 and August last year.
The gang also used key programming technology to steal vehicles including Range Rovers, Mercedes and BMWs using vehicles that looked like minicabs – complete with TfL private hire stickers – to commit the thefts.
On August 17 last year police raided a pub in Manor Park run by gang leader Manjit Sandhu’s dad, finding car keys, a key programmer, “blank” keys and a lock-picking tool.
The 32-year-old ring leader, of Fairlawns Close, Hornchurch, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to steal at Southwark Crown Court on Monday, March 6 after he was caught on his own CCTV system leaving home to commit the crimes.
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Yesterday he was sentenced to 12 years in prison, which includes a two year suspended sentence becoming active following a prior conviction of vehicle theft.
Sandhu even committed one offence on the same day he received a suspended sentence for being involved in the theft of another car in an unrelated incident.
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The rest of the gang were also sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on the same day.
Co-conspirator Mohammed Islam, 21, of Knox Road, Forest Gate, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to steal and was jailed for three years.
Geoffrey Cairns, 55, of Swindon Lane, Romford was jailed for three years and six months. He had been found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary, having already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal.
Sufiyan Mahmood, 19, of Stracey Road, Forest Gate pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to steal and was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison, plus an extra four months to run consecutively for an unrelated matter of possession of drugs and mobile phones whilst being remanded in custody.
Faisal Khan, 23, of Chestnut Avenue, Forest Gate, also admitted conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to steal and was jailed for four years and six months.
Humzah Bhariwala, 23, of Dunbar Road, Forest Gate, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary and was jailed for 18 months.
Heena Bux, 21, of Walwood Road, Leytonstone, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to steal, andsentenced to a total of nine years and six months in prison, including two years for the activation of a suspended sentence having previously been convicted of burglary.
Khuram Zaman, 20, of Violet Road, Walthamstow, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to steal. He was sentenced to a total of four years, six months’ imprisonment.
Det Ch Insp Caroline Clooney, who leads the Met’s organised vehicle crime unit said the gang “brought distress to many victims whose homes they broke into”.
She added: “[They] not only lost their vehicles but in many cases were traumatised by the thought of someone having been in their house while they slept. Although the case involved over 120 offences, it is clear that this team were responsible for an even greater number of crimes.
“Almost all of the houses that were burgled had uPVC front doors that had not been double locked, allowing the offenders to gain entry very quickly using simple tools,” she said. “I would urge all householders to ensure that their front door is correctly locked at night – this means not only lifting the handle on a UPVC door, but also using the key to lock it.
“Unless it is locked with the key, the door remains vulnerable to the method employed by the criminals in this case.”