Ilford Man jailed for Selling Stolen Cars and Bikes worth £1m

Liaqat Ali, from Ilford, was jailed for his role in selling more than £1 million worth of stolen cars, vans and motorbikes. An accomplice was also jailed.

Ilford Man jailed for Selling Stolen Cars and Bikes worth £1m f

"These two men ran a prolific and well-organised criminal enterprise."

Liaqat Ali, aged 47, of Westrow Gardens, Ilford, was jailed for four years and three months at Southwark Crown Court for selling stolen cars.

He was jailed alongside his accomplice Mantas Balciunas, aged 35, of Somerset.

They sold more than 100 cars, vans and motorbikes, valued at more than £1 million.

The two men handled the vehicles between April 2012 and September 2017, stolen through keyless car theft, robbery, test drive theft and burglary.

They were sometimes dismantled and sold on for parts or fitted with bogus license plates and sold to unsuspecting eBay customers.

They were jailed after the Met Police were looking into stolen motorbikes and vans in London which were then sold. The investigation was codenamed ‘Operation Hipsometer’.

On June 27, 2017, officers searched Balciunas’ home where he sold most of the vehicles. A stolen Mercedes Sprinter van was parked outside and Balciunas was in the process of converting it into a camper van.

Ilford Man jailed for Selling Stolen Cars and Bikes worth £1m 2

A second van was parked nearby with parts from other vans which had been stolen from Kent.

Officers then searched Balciunas’ work unit at a remote farm in Frome, Somerset. They found stolen motorbikes which had been stripped and where stolen van parts had been stored.

Several stolen Sprinter vans were found at the location, one of which contained a motorbike that had been stolen from Birmingham and another from Camden.

It was found that Balciunas had sold over 40 stolen motorbikes and Sprinter vans through three different eBay accounts between 2014 and 2017.

Detectives later found out that he had been working with Ali.

On September 19, 2017, they raided his business address at a yard in Romford where even more stolen vehicle parts were found.

Ali was operating several businesses from his yard including a minicab rental and repair service, vehicle breakers, vehicle recovery and a storage facility comprising of shipping containers for rent.

Detectives found an etching machine, designed to etch vehicle identity numbers (VINs). It was inside one of the containers linked to Balciunas.

Ilford Man jailed for Selling Stolen Cars and Bikes worth £1m 3

Both men were found guilty of conspiracy to handle stolen goods. In addition, Balciunas was found guilty of handling stolen goods.

Detective Constable Gavin Smith led the Met’s Organised Vehicle Crime Unit’s Investigation. He said:

“These two men ran a prolific and well-organised criminal enterprise.

“Balciunas was prepared to go to great lengths to convince purchasers that they were purchasing a legitimate vehicle and our investigation linked the offenders to a substantial number of offences.

“Ali had clearly been operating a safe haven to which stolen vehicles from across London were taken for a number of years.”

“I hope today’s sentence serves as a deterrent to those involved in this type of brazen criminality and reminds them that we will not stop bringing those responsible to justice.”

Mantas Balciunas was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison. Liaqat Ali was jailed for four years and three months.

Dhiren is a journalism graduate with a passion for gaming, watching films and sports. He also enjoys cooking from time to time. His motto is to “Live life one day at a time.”

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