Cocky Birmingham car thief, Shanwaz Khan, grabbed the attention of police officers in March 2012 as he passed by in his Audi RS4 bearing the personalised number plate ‘S20LUN’ (i.e. ‘STOLEN’). The vehicle was in convoy with a stolen Mercedes at the time.
The six month police investigation that ensued revealed that the 30 year old from Birmingham was the mastermind behind a £1.5 million car racket. Khan’s gang stole high value cars, stripped the vehicles down and sold the parts to over 3000 unknowing eBay customers. In court it was heard that Khan was involved in over 82 vehicle thefts and violent car-jackings during the year 2012, totalling a value between £1 million and 1.5 million. Most of the vehicles were stolen from driveways after car keys were pocketed during house burglaries, however there were also numerous incidents involving personal and forceful contact with drivers of vehicles the gang targeted to steal. One example of the gang’s criminal conquests includes a man at a petrol station being dragged from behind the wheel of his £25,000 Ford Focus ST. Investigating Officer, Detective Constable Mo Azir has said that, “The scale of their criminal operation was vast and they showed a complete disregard to the trail of destruction and misery left behind to victims of these offences”.
Shanwaz Khan stripped down cars and stored the parts in various industrial units in Erdington. In addition, Khan paid to rent space at City Self Storage in Digbeth where he hid stolen engines that were due to be shipped abroad. All these premises were leased using false names and documentation.
Khan admitted conspiracy to commit burglary and handle stolen goods and was sentenced with a seven year jail term. Khan challenged this sentence claiming that his punishment was too harsh. In his application to appeal, Khan stated that he had started out as an honest businessman but he had “succumbed to the temptation of operating illegitimately” when the motor trade became difficult.
Senior judges at London’s Criminal Appeal Court firmly rejected Khan’s sentence challenge and Mr Justice Cranston said, “We are suitably unimpressed by Khan’s submissions and we agree with the sentencing judge….This was a professional conspiracy. There were a series of serious robberies as part of that conspiracy, where victims were targeted – sometimes the elderly…..There was a substantial sum involved and a significant deterrent element was required in sentencing. We refuse to leave [to appeal].”
Detective Constable Mo Azir commented that “The brazen attitude of Shanwaz Khan was typified by his personalised number plate: this was a clear jibe at the authorities and he believed his underground theft racket was going unnoticed. The joke is on him now, though, as he starts a long prison term”.
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