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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Gang sentenced following hundreds of thefts from motorists

A successful City of London Police operation has resulted in a criminal gang being sentenced to years in prison.

Luke Stephen (38) of Brentwood, Essex, was sentenced to 40 months imprisonment for stealing a suitcase with more than £100,000 worth of jewellery by Faberge, Cartier, Bulgari and Van Cleef and Arpels.

Stephen and four other members of a gang, thought to have stolen millions of pounds worth of goods from hundreds of motorists in and around the Square Mile, were all sentenced at Inner London Crown Court.

Detective sergeant Graham Willis, who led the investigation at the City of London Police, said: “With the permission of the victim, officers used the location facility on an electrical gadget and tracked the device to a block of flats in Brentwood, Essex. However, the technology is accurate only to within a few metres so officers began to knock on some doors.

“When Stephen answered his door, it was like a scene from The Bill. The door swung open and in the background was all this stolen stuff spread out over the floor. The officers could see these were the items stolen from the Aston Martin because of the descriptions we had. They recovered that property – and then found a further £60,000 worth of stolen designer handbags, shoes, belts and jewellery.

“After the arrest of the gang, thefts from cars in and around the Square Mile fell by 85 per cent.”

Investigations began after an emergency call from a woman who had returned to her silver Aston Martin to find her jewels stolen on August 4, 2022, at an NCP car park in Bell Wharf Lane, near the River Thames. She had flown into London with her partner that day and had not had an opportunity to find a safer place for them.

The theft was picked up by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) because of the value of the items stolen.

When Stephen’s home was raided, police seized his mobile phone and on it were messages sent between him and four other men, boasting of stealing goods from cars over a number of years – they even included pictures of some of the items they had stolen.

Guilty plea

The men were arrested in simultaneous raids on June 6 last year. After seeing the evidence against them, the gang pleaded guilty.

  • Stephen was sentenced to 40 months imprisonment for the thefts from the Aston Martin, with a further 14 months suspended for two years.
  • Gareth Davies (41) from Teddington, south-west London, was sentenced to 43 months.
  • Ian Matthews (32) from Shepherd’s Bush, north-west London, was given three years in custody.
  • James Saddington (33) from Earls Court, west London, was sentenced to 14 months, suspended for two years.
  • Jake Colassi-O’Connor (32) from Chelsea, west London, was given 20 months, suspended for two years.

Stephen, Davies and Matthews have also been made subject to Serious Crime Prevention Orders (SCPOs), which impose restrictions on who they may associate with, and where they may or may not go. These will last for five years after they are released from prison – and can result in another prison sentence if breached.

Detective chief superintendent Mandy Horsburgh, head of specialist operations, exclusively told the Daily Mail:

“This case is another example of dedicated, hard-working police officers following leads, knocking on doors and cracking the case.

“This was a sophisticated criminal gang intent on taking possessions from those who work, visit and live in the City for their own financial gain. We hope this delivers the message to any criminals thinking of entering the City of London to commit crime that they should think again, as we will work tenaciously to bring them to justice.”

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