Police put brakes on £1.2m black market car exports

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TENS of thousands of pounds worth of stolen trucks were stopped by police heading out of Immingham for Africa.

Nationally officers put the brakes on £1.2m worth of vehicles, including BMWs, Audis and a Porsche, being smuggled out of the country by crime gangs.

In last month’s crackdown, officers from the National Crime Agency, ACPO Vehicle Intelligence Service and Border Force targeted containers and trailer traffic at ports across the country.

BMWs, Range Rovers, Audis, a Porsche, Scania trucks and a Komatsu Excavator were among the 44 vehicles recovered. They were destined for African countries, Cyprus, France, the USA, Malaysia and Burma.

Eighteen had been stolen from members of the public in London, Surrey, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire, Germany and the Netherlands. The remaining vehicles belonged to companies and had outstanding finance on them.

Out of the ten vehicles recovered at Immingham, four Scania trucks were destined for Tanzania, while two Mercedes trucks would have ended up in Kenya. Officers also discovered a container of parts from at least 29 stolen BMWs.

Police say the black market trade makes for a lucrative business for criminals as they avoid tax and import duties and the vehicles are relatively cheap to send in containers marked “personal goods”. Some groups even pay for drug shipments with cars.

Mark Laming, Border Force Acting Assistant Director at Immingham, said: “The success of any operation is dependent on the quality of intelligence we receive and our joint approach in tackling this illegal trade has proved effective in disrupting organised crime groups.

“Our joint operational activity across twelve UK ports has led to a significant level of seizures and provided a wealth of intelligence that will benefit Border Force and other law enforcement agencies.”

Last year 90,000 vehicles were stolen in the UK, including many which will have been exported by crime groups. Normally “stolen to order” four by fours are popular in some countries because of the prestige and terrain.