Cars worth quarter of a million cut up
A man who was part of a team who stripped high value cars worth a total of nearly Â£250,000 for spare parts in a garage near Peterborough has been jailed.
Gediminas Babusis was part of the gang found at the premises at King’s Dyke, Whittlesey in March this year.
When police discovered the garage, they found Tesla and Mercedes cars with parts and panels stripped from them.
Detectives only uncovered the operation when an Audi Q5 car was stolen from an address in Middlesex - but the thieves did not know a tracking device had been fitted, and it led police to the ‘chop shop’. It was also being taken apart when officers arrived.
Peterborough Crown Court heard the total value of the cars found being dismantled was around £240,000 - with the two Tesla vehicles worth more than £80,000 each.
Police also found a radio transmitter blocker - capable of blocking tracking device signals - but the court heard there was no evidence it had been used by the gang.
Babusis (47), of no fixed abode was arrested at the scene.
He appeared at Peterborough Crown Court, where he was jailed for two and a half years after admitting four counts of handling stolen goods.
He listened to the hearing with the help of an interpreter.
James Earle, prosecuting, said: “At 3.50am on March 25 2018, an Audi Q5 was stolen from an address in Middlesex.
“Police were alerted to the theft at 8am, as the owner said the vehicle had a tracking system.
“The signal sent officers to King’s Dyke in Whittlesey, where they found the Q5 - although it had registration plates that did not belong to it.
“The Audi was in the process of being dismantled.
“Also in the building was a black Mercedes GLC 220, which had been stolen from Harrow on March 19, which was also being dismantled - parts and panels were missing.
“It was clear this was a ‘chop shop’ where high value stolen vehicles were stripped for spare parts.
“There was also a Mercedes Sprinter box van stolen in London in February, two Tesla Model S cars and numerous spare parts.”
Mr Earle said Babusis arrived in the UK from Vilnius in Lithuania after responding to a job advert on Facebook.
Mr Earle said: “He was told he would earn £1,000 a month, but when he arrived at Luton he was met by a group of Albanians - he then thought the job offer might not be legitimate.
“He had no family, friends or support in the UK.”
Stephen Mather, defending, said: “In interview he said he didn’t see anything suspicious. The vehicles were being delivered by Albanians, and he believed they were being broken down to be sold to Russians, and avoid Russian import tax.
“But he accepts he came to know they were stolen, and once he was in (the organisation), he was in.
“He was living at or near the ‘chop shop’, and had nothing.”
The court was told Babusis had one previous conviction, for theft of a vehicle in 2016, when he was jailed for six months.
Judge Sean Enright, sentencing, said: “This was organised crime on any view.”
The court was also told a co-defendant was still on the run.