An ‘off-the-books’ business owner, Chirag Patel, aged 39, from Croydon, has been jailed for eight years after renting out expensive stolen cars.
Patel got caught after he reported his own Porsche stolen to the police.
A five-week trial ended on Friday, October 12, 2018, finding Patel guilty of conspiracy to handle stolen goods and possession of criminal property, relating to £440,000 of cash deposits in two personal bank accounts in his name, which were unexplained.
He was running his illegal car rental scheme from his basement garage on Frith Road in Croydon.
According to a spokesperson for the Met Police:
“On Sunday, 1 February 2015, Patel reported to police that his Porsche had been stolen the previous day (Jan 31).”
“At first, Patel resisted giving his home address, instead providing details of his parent’s address.
“When he finally gave his own address, officers attended the property as part of their investigation into the stolen car. Here they discovered a number of high-value vehicles in the basement car park.
“Officers identified that one of cars had a personalised number plate identical to one seen earlier on a vehicle outside Patel’s parent’s address.
“Further inquiries by officers established that the five vehicles in the car park had false number plates and all were later confirmed to have been stolen.
“Patel was arrested at his home address on 19 February 2015.”
In total, the police took custody of 19 vehicles which were stolen and were worth about £728,000.
The police spokesperson revealed what officers found at Patel’s residence:
“During a search of his property, officers recovered 26 sets of car keys, as well as lists of vehicles and registrations, machines for accessing on-board computers in vehicles, programming keys and a number of mobile phones, tablets and laptops.”
Nine sets of the keys had been stolen from Jaguar Land Rover’s plant in Solihull, West Midlands.
Patel was renting out the stolen cars “to his associates and contacts” as part of his ‘off-the-books’ operation.
The met police spokesperson unveiled information about Patel’s illegitimate business saying:
“The vehicles had been stolen by unknown individuals during burglaries and keyless thefts across London between October 2012 and January 2015 and were stored at or near addresses owned by Patel and his family, or with associates who looked after the vehicles for him or rented them from him.
“The identities of the cars were concealed using legitimate insurance details of vehicles which had been written off.”
On behalf of the investigation, acting Detective Sergeant Billy Clough said:
“Patel played the leading role in a sophisticated operation to handle high-value, stolen vehicles, motivated only by sheer greed.”
“He even attempted to convince the jury that he was a legitimate businessman, who had simply been unlucky in obtaining such a vast quantity of stolen items, but the jury saw through this and convicted him of being the key player in a significant criminal enterprise.
“I hope this sentence sends a message that those involved in this type of organised criminality will be pursued robustly.”
Judge HHJ Gower highlighted the impressive work of officer PC Andy Garland who found the first stolen car as part of the investigation saying:
“It was his sharp eyes and investigative nose and approach which first spotted a stolen vehicle and set this investigation in motion and he receives my formal commendation.”