Crime & the Law

84 arrests in Operation Endeavour- the police campaign against keyless vehicle theft

Keyless vehicle theft operation

Police intercept stolen top of the range BMW concealed in container at Felixstow. Image: Met Police

The Met Police has secured 84 arrests and seized expensive vehicles about to be smuggled out of the UK in a week long campaign against keyless vehicle theft.

Five Land Rover Range Rovers and hundreds of vehicle parts, believed to have been stolen and destined for sale abroad, have been seized at the container Port of Felixstowe, Suffolk.

Operation Endeavour has been targeting organised criminals stealing keyless vehicles using a device which bypasses the vehicle’s electronics.

The Met Police apply Operation Lockdown and Endeavour to combat keyless vehicle theft

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This allows them to drive them away without the owner’s key.

The operation has combined crime preventative as well as crime investigative strategies.

Officers across London have been raising awareness of keyless vehicle theft by issuing 30,000 flyers giving advice on how to avoid being a victim of this crime.

800 officers from the Met Police, Kent, Essex, Hampshire, Surrey and Thames Valley Police forces monitored around 20 arterial roads, stopping vehicles believed to have been stolen or linked to other crime.

They’ve seized 222 vehicles, two of which were believed stolen during the proactive operation, codenamed Lockdown.

Sixteen people have been arrested for theft of motor vehicle.

A further 68 people have been arrested for possession of offensive weapons, burglary, money laundering and driving while disqualified.

In a joint, intelligence-led operation with ACPO Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (AVCIS) at the Port of Felixstowe, seven containers filled with cars and vehicle parts believed stolen have been discovered.

Five Land Rover Range Rovers, suspected of having been taken from Surrey, South Woodford and Islington have been found in containers destined for Kenya.

Hundreds of vehicle parts including engines have been found in the containers destined for Cyrpus.

It is believed that the parts – some of which appear to belong to 12 BMW’s reported as stolen from east London – would have been further exported to other countries to be sold.

Detective Chief Superintendent Carl Bussey, the lead officer for Operation Endeavour, said:

We began opening the containers on Tuesday. They are so jammed with cars and vehicle parts that we are still extracting the contents.

In one container, bikes, also believed stolen, were packed around vehicle parts to disguise the true contents of the container from any inspectors.

I launched Operation Endeavour by emphasising the need for drivers to secure their vehicles in order to try and prevent keyless vehicle theft. This, combined with the joint enforcement work with our colleagues in the Home Counties and AVCIS, will help us reduce vehicle theft and arrest the organised criminals behind it.

Detective Inspector Wayne Cooke, of AVCIS, said:

AVCIS has been supporting our Metropolitan Police Service colleagues with our ports intelligence unit staff identifying opportunities for examining and recovering vehicles and vehicle parts stolen through keyless methods.

As part of this campaign we have successfully disrupted a number of high value vehicles heading to overseas countries. Recovering vehicles such as these in Operation Endeavour offers opportunities for further investigation with particular emphasis in tackling organised crime groups involved in vehicle criminality

This sends the clearest message to criminals that agencies are working together to tackle keyless offending and put the fear of crime back onto the criminal.

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