‘Prolific’ Romford and Hornchurch car thieves helped steal almost £3million’s worth of cars
- Credit: Archant
A “brazen” gang of car thieves have been convicted 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, Newham, 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 yesterday after he was caught on his own CCTV system leaving home to commit the crimes.
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.
Appearing alongside Sandhu, co-conspirator Mohammed Islam, 21, of Knox Road, Forest Gate, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to steal as was 55-year-old Geoffrey Cairns of Swindon Lane, Romford.
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Sufiyan Mahmood, 19, of Stracey Road in Forest Gate was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to steal as was Faisal Khan, 23, of Chestnut Avenue, Forest Gate.
Humzah Bhariwala, 23, of Dunbar Road, Forest Gate, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary.
Heena Buz, 21, of Walwood Road, Leytonstone, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to steal at Southwark Crown Court yesterday as was Khuram Zaman, 20, of Violet Road, Walthamstow.
Det Ch Insp Caroline Clooney, who leads the Met’s organised vehicle crime unit said the gang was “extremely prolific and well-organised”.
They brought distress to many victims whose homes they broke into, who 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.”