Stolen British Vehicles Worth £1 Million Traced To Uganda
Stolen British cars with a combined value of one million pounds have been traced to a wasteland in Uganda, The National Crime Agency confirmed.
The discovery came following the theft of a Lexus RX 450h from London in April 2015 by an organised gang. It was equipped with a tracker that enabled the police to monitor its movements.
It was first taken to Le Harve in France, then shipped across the Mediterranean Sea, through the Suez Canal then to Oman in the Middle East. It was later shipped to Mombasa in Kenya then taken by road – courtesy of a steel container - to Kampala, Uganda.
The Lexus – which was worth about fifty thousand pounds when new and was traced via a smartphone app – was found alongside a wide range of stolen cars from the United Kingdom.
These included a: Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, BMW X3, Audi TT and Toyota Hilux. In total, twenty-nine were recovered most of which were high-end, prestigious, sports-utility vehicles. At least one sported new plates from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Right-hand-drive cars are popular in Uganda where motorists drive on the left thanks to a British colonial past. The stolen fleet will now be returned to the UK.
National Crime Agency Regional Manager Paul Stanfield - who tracked the stolen Lexus and uncovered the smuggling gang - said: “This investigation is an excellent example of the close co-operation between the UK National Crime Agency, National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, Interpol, and anti-fraud investigators APU to tackle the increasing threat from organised vehicle crime.”
Mr Stanfield continued: “Working with the police and security services in Kenya and Uganda, we have been able to dismantle an international criminal network that has been responsible for stealing high-value cars from the UK and exporting them to East Africa.”
Keyless Ignition Systems
Reports suggest that a high percentage of the stolen fleet had keyless ignition. This enables the motorist to start/stop the engine by pressing a button, rather than turning a key. The fob only has to be in close proximity.
However, there is widespread concern that this convenience makes a vehicle easy to steal. A criminal might simply have to programme his own key and press “start”, after all. A vehicle of this nature – unlike its older counterparts – lack the reassurance of a metal key that has to manually turn an ignition cylinder.
The Daily Mail says ten-thousand keyless ignition cars have been stolen from London in 2015 (so far).