LONDON (TIP): Indian-origin Chirag Patel has been sentenced to eight years in jail by a UK court for handling of 19 stolen high-value vehicles worth over 7,00,000 pounds.
Patel, 39, was found guilty of conspiracy to handle stolen goods and possession of criminal property at the end of a five-week trial at Croydon Crown Court.
“Patel played the leading role in a sophisticated operation to handle high-value, stolen vehicles, motivated only by sheer greed,” said Acting Detective Sergeant Billy Clough, who led the investigation for the Metropolitan Police.
“He even attempted to convince the jury that he was a legitimate businessman, who had simply been unlucky in obtaining such a vast quantity of stolen items, but the jury saw through this and convicted him of being the key player in a significant criminal enterprise,” he said.
Patel was jailed for conspiracy to handle stolen goods in relation to the cars and keys, for which he received eight years’ imprisonment.
He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for possessing criminal property and in relation to over 440,000 pounds of unexplained cash deposits which had been identified from two personal bank accounts in his name
Both the sentences will run concurrently.
“I hope this sentence sends a message that those involved in this type of organized criminality will be pursued robustly,” the Met Police said.
The court was told that in February 2015, Patel reported to police that his Porsche had been stolen.
At first, Patel resisted giving his home address, instead providing details of his parent’s address.
When he finally gave his own address, officers attended the property as part of their investigation into the stolen car.
Here they discovered a number of high-value vehicles in the basement car park. Officers identified that one of cars had a personalized number plate identical to one seen earlier on a vehicle outside Patel’s parent’s address.
Further inquiries by officers established that the five vehicles in the car park had false number plates and all were later confirmed to have been stolen.
Patel was arrested at his home address soon after.
During a search of his property, Met Police officers recovered 26 sets of car keys, as well as lists of vehicles and registrations, machines for accessing on-board computers in vehicles, programming keys and a number of mobile phones, tablets and laptops.
Following a detailed investigation, led by officers from Croydon’s Serious Acquisitive Crime Unit, a total of 19 stolen vehicles with an estimated value of 728,000 pounds were linked to Patel and subsequently seized, as well as nine sets of keys which had been stolen from Jaguar Land Rover’s plant in Solihull, West Midlands, and a laptop stolen during a burglary in Streatham area of south London.
During the trial, judge H H J Gower praised the work of the Scotland Yard officer, Police Constable Andy Garland, whose work identified the first stolen vehicle.
The judge said: “It was his sharp eyes and investigative nose and approach which first spotted a stolen vehicle and set this investigation in motion and he receives my formal commendation.”
The police later discovered that Patel had been using the vehicles in the running of an “off-the-books” vehicle rental business, where vehicles were rented out to his associates and contacts.
The vehicles had been stolen by unknown individuals during burglaries and keyless thefts across London between October 2012 and January 2015 and were stored at or near addresses owned by Patel and his family, or with associates who looked after the vehicles for him or rented them from him.
The identities of the cars were concealed using legitimate insurance details of vehicles which had been written off on official records.