Horton Kirby farm used by gang in stolen vehicle conspiracy
19:03 29 February 2012
Three Lithuanian men who used a north Kent farm to base their operation of handling 150 stolen Mercedes Sprinter vans during a lucrative eight month spree face prison.
Arunas Gambarovas, 33, Arturas Gulbinas, 23, and Almantas Tuskevicius, 22, were found guilty at Maidstone Crown Court today (Wednesday) of conspiring to handle stolen vehicles.
Vehicles were then stored and broken down at Oak View stud farm in Horton Kirby and another commercial unit in Southall. All were reported as stolen within a 10 mile radius of Heathrow Airport, and predominantly from the Hounslow area.
His Honour Judge St Stevens said that it was “inevitable” that the three would face a term of imprisonment.
In the summer of 2011, Gambarovas, Gulbinas, Tuskevicius, and Vidas Valkauskas, 33, all of Avenue Crescent, Hounslow, Middlesex were charged after being linked to 26 vehicles stolen across Kent, Surrey, Thames Valley and the Metropolitan Police area.
Some of the vehicles were broken down for parts, whilst many others vehicles were taken out of the country.
Following a three and a half week trial at Maidstone Crown Court Gambarovas, Gulbinas and Tuskevicius were found guilty while Mr Valkauskas was found not guilty.
Investigating officer, Detective Constable Andrew Payne from Kent Police said: “Many of the vans that were stolen were taken from workmen, who suffered a loss of business as a result of having their van and tools stolen. “Although the defendants appeared to have a well-run and profitable enterprise underway, through an intense and thorough investigation over a number of months we have obtained evidence to secure a guilty verdict against three men.”
The criminal enterprise was discovered when insurance investigators attended the Horton Kirby farm following a fire, which had occurred in March 2011. The fire was started after a car at the farm was being dismantled, and was later identified as a stolen vehicle.
A warrant was executed at the farm on May 11 2011, which resulted in the recovery of the parts of 20 vehicles, which had been reported as stolen from locations across the south east, including Cambridge, Hounslow, Hayes, Essex and Dartford.
A few days later they arrested the gang at the farm with a stolen vehicle and found items including mobile phone signal jammers to stop tracking devices emitting signals, car stereos and satellite navigation devices.
Despite this, a stolen vehicle from the Thames Valley area was located in Northern Europe thanks to its tracking device. In the back of the van was a dismantled Sprinter van.
Sentencing is due to take place on Friday (2).