England

'Crime gang' jailed for high value car thefts

(From left to right) Vythutas Lauresevicius, Arenidas Petrauskas and Marius Sabaliauskas
Image caption The men broke into homes where the cars were parked and stole the keys

Three men have been jailed after admitting stealing to order top-of-the range cars with a total value estimated at £317,000.

The thefts, between September and December 2009, took place in Kent, south London and southern England.

Marius Sabaliauskas was jailed for five years, Vythutas Lauresevicius for six and Arenidas Petrauskas for two and a half years at Canterbury Crown Court.

Police said the men were part of a "Lithuanian crime group".

The stolen cars included a Porsche 911, two Mercedes Benz, two BMWs and an Audi Q7.

'Tip of iceberg'

There was also a Mercedes S320 and a Range Rover.

The court was told the three men broke into homes where the cars were parked outside and stole the keys.

Most of the burglaries were committed while the occupants were asleep.

The trio was caught after a Kent police surveillance operation which ended in their arrest after a car chase following a burglary in Whitstable on 7 December.

Other offences took place in Walderslade, Kent; Benfleet and Doddinghurst, Essex; Coulsdon, south east London; Hertford, Reading, Berkshire and Cambridge.

"These three men were part of a Lithuanian crime group who are responsible for a significant number of burglaries in the south of England," said Det Insp Eddie Fox.

"These convictions are the tip of the iceberg.

"Members of their gang trawl the region looking for good quality cars on driveways of homes, with them or others returning later to steal them.

"There can be no doubt that they came to England with the sole intention of committing crime.

"Householders are urged to review their home's security and ensure that car keys are not left in a place where they can be easily found by intruders."

Sabaliauskas, 31, and Petrauskas, 29, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle and conspiracy to steal.

Lairesvicius, 22, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle, conspiracy to steal and aggravated vehicle taking.

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