March 16 2014 Latest news:
by Michael Adkins, Assistant Editor (content)
Monday, March 5, 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 have been jailed for a total of seven-and-a-half years.
Arunas Gambarovas, 33, Arturas Gulbinas, 23, and Almantas Tuskevicius, 22, were sentenced on Friday after being found guilty at Maidstone Crown Court last Wednesday of conspiring to handle stolen vehicles.
Vehicles were stolen from around the south east then stored and broken down at Oak View stud farm in Horton Kirby and another commercial unit in Southall.
Appearing for sentence Arunas Gambarovas was given three-and-a-half years in prison, Almantas Tuskevicius was sentenced to two-and-a-half years and Arturas Gulbinas to one-and-a-half-years in prison.
His Honour Judge St Stevens said that it was “inevitable” that the three would face a term of imprisonment and at the sentencing referred to the gang as a “highly organised and professional organisation”.
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.
Mr Valkauskas was found not guilty during the three-and-a-half week trial.
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.”
The criminal enterprise was discovered when insurance investigators attended the Horton Kirby farm following a fire, which had occurred in March 2011. It started after a car at the farm was dismantled, 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 Dartford.
A few days later police 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.