Monday, 22 Apr 2024

Luxury cars stolen from Premier League footballers found in shipping containers

Luxury cars stolen from two Premier League footballers were among a £16 million haul of vehicles and parts recovered by police.

A Ferrari and Range Rover Sport belonging to the players were discovered in shipping containers due to be transported from a port in Thurrock, Essex, to Dubai.

The footballers have not been named, but reportedly have more than 100 international caps between them.

Their vehicles were stolen from neighbouring counties, according to Essex Police’s stolen vehicle intelligence unit (SVIU).

In total, 517 vehicles or parts were recovered, with police saying thieves may have hoped to be paid two or three times more than the UK value once they were sent overseas.

One of the players came to SVIU’s base to be reunited with his car.

PC Phil Pentelow said: ‘He was genuinely thankful and taken aback by the lengths we had gone to.

‘Even though he plays for one of my team’s biggest rivals, he was a nice guy and down to earth. It was good to help him.’

SVIU said sometimes car thieves will look to quickly sell on stolen vehicles – even for significantly under the market value – strip it for parts, or ship either the whole vehicle or parts to the Middle East and Africa.

Thieves or handlers of stolen vehicles may also use false or cloned identities to sell them on to unsuspecting members of the public in the UK. They can also be passed on to other criminals.

The recent recovery formed part of Operation Ignition, which saw the SVIU join forces with roads policing and investigators to target gangs behind vehicle theft.

Everything from family saloons to supercars have been returned to hundreds of victims, police said.

PC Paul Gerrish added: ‘Every stolen car is important to us and we work as hard as we can to get them back to their owners.

‘When you phone someone up and tell them we’ve got their car with their kids’ car seats and the pushchair in the back, or other personal items, it’s hugely satisfying.

‘We are creating a hostile environment for car thieves. We know what to look for and we know how and where they operate.’

PC Pentelow urged drivers to double lock and check their vehicles because, he said, people are still creating risks by leaving their cars unlocked.

The police also recommend using a steering-wheel lock and looking at videos online to learn about the vulnerabilities of their make and model.

It also encouraged drivers to visit the police-run website Secured by Design, which offers advice on security devices for vehicles and buildings.

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