Since the announcement of the first lockdown last year, there have been growing warnings about a rise in car theft as people remain at home. And, with a shortage of car parts, vehicles are also being stolen for parts. However, with so few people using their cars, this has meant that owners may not notice straight away if their vehicle has been taken. But some car thieves in Kent bit off more than they had bargained for when they stole a Land Rover with a Skytag tracker fitted.
As recently reported by Skytag, a GPS tracking service provider, their customer’s Land Rover was stolen from its parking spot in a residential street. Due to lockdown restrictions, the owner only noticed the theft – which took place on a Thursday in the early hours – the following Monday afternoon, leaving a four-day gap for his Land Rover to disappear.
Upon realising his vehicle had been stolen, the owner called the police and contacted Skytag, who were able to direct the police to a residential address where the tracker showed the vehicle to be. The police were able to gain entry and luckily found the stolen Land Rover – but that wasn’t all they found.
During the raid the police found two other stolen vehicles and, upon searching the house, also found a large sum of cash, drugs, two handguns and ammunition.
Due to the precise nature of the Skytag tracker’s records, Skytag were able to give the police a roadmap of the Land Rover’s movements from the Wednesday evening. They reported that the car was stolen in the early hours of Thursday morning and taken to a field on the outskirts of the village near the owner’s home, where it remained for eighteen hours.
This is part of the ‘cleaning’ process: a common practice among car thieves. Although it may seem odd to leave a vehicle which has just been stolen, this is done so that the thieves know whether the car has a tracker or not. If the police turn up within this period, the car undoubtedly has a tracker. However, as the owner did not report the Land Rover stolen, this led to the thieves assuming the vehicle was clean.
The vehicle was then moved, tracker and all, to a workshop on an industrial estate, before being taken to the private address where it was found. When the police raided the workshop, they were shocked to find a box containing the genuine VIN plates from another thirty-two stolen vehicles that had had their identities changed. This discovery led to the police identifying a further three people in relation to the thefts.
‘Kent police were very happy,’ say Guy Topsom, Managing Director of Skytag, ‘as under normal circumstances they would have recovered the vehicle from the field when it was discovered missing. As it was, because of lockdown they uncovered a whole load of other illegal activity because of the tracker records.’
Heritage customers can get a Skytag GPS tracker unit free of charge. For more information, please call a member of the Heritage team on 0121 248 9229.