Gang jailed for stealing Upminster racing driver’s �50k car

�A gang who stole �250,000 worth of high-end cars and motorcyles – including a �50,000 racing car from an Upminster man – have been jailed with help from a Facebook campaign and YouTube video.

Stephen Biagioni, from Wardegrave Gardens, had his Subaru Impreza driven away from the Santa Pod racetrack in Bedfordshire on his birthday, June 12 last year.

Threats

Stephen said: “I have to thank the fans for reuniting me with my car because in a few hours the fans had put on Facebook that the car was missing and everything just went crazy.”

The next day, Stephen received a call from one of the gang members threatening to destroy the car unless he gave them �5,000.


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Ten of the men, who took part in the stealing spree over a five-month period last year, were sentenced at Reading Crown Court on Friday last week, to a total of more than 20 years in prison.

Another member of the gang is due to be sentenced on Monday.

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Stephen, was at the event with his racing team, Japspeed, when he started getting Facebook messages from fans telling him that his car was missing.

He spent two hours searching for it when updates went up on Facebook saying that the car had been stolen.

Later a YouTube video was posted showing the car being driven on the M25.

Stephen said: “I thought it was a joke and someone had moved the car for a laugh, but then I realised that everyone was being serious.

“It was just terrible. It was like a really bad dream and it was the first time that anything like this had ever happened in my industry.”

When Stephen got a call from the gang about the car, he called police and undercover officers followed him to Reading where one of the members was arrested.

He said: “I felt that I was playing something out of a Playstation game.

Alert

“I was around some of the best police officers in the world, with guns and then there was little me who just wanted to get my car back.”

The 11 defendants all pleaded guilty to committing a number of offences of burglary, theft and handling stolen goods between them.

Stephen said: “It’s a learning curve for the whole motoring industry. When you go to these things you have to be on red alert and it has made me more suspicious.”

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