London: An Indian-origin man sentenced to eight years' imprisonment for handling 19 stolen vehicles worth over 700,000 pounds last year has been ordered to pay back 1,369,661.90 pounds.
Chirag Patel was subject to a confiscation order under the UK's Proceeds of Crime Act at Croydon Crown Court on Friday and the confiscation of the money, which the 40-year-old car thief did not contest, follows a lengthy police investigation into the large-scale handling of high value stolen cars. Patel has also been handed down a 10-year default prison sentence, which will be imposed if he fails to pay back the money.
"The Met is committed to ensuring that individuals who commit criminality are identified, prosecuted and their criminal assets are seized," said Metropolitan Police Acting Detective Sergeant Billy Clough, who led the investigation.
"The significant financial investigation undertaken by Detective Constable Nick Portman should also be recognised, without which substantial criminal assets would not have been recovered," he said.
Patel was jailed in October 2018 at Croydon Crown Court for eight years after he was found guilty following a five-week trial. His offence included conspiracy to handle stolen goods in relation to 19 stolen vehicles and nine additional stolen car keys, for which he received eight years' imprisonment. He was also convicted for possession of criminal property in relation to more than 530,000 pounds of unexplained cash deposits which had been identified from three personal bank accounts in his name, for which he received three years' imprisonment to run concurrently.
Officers from Croydon's Serious Acquisitive Crime Unit arrested Patel in February 2015 after discovering five high-value vehicles in the basement car park at his home address and he was charged in April 2017.
Further inquiries by officers established that the five vehicles in the car park had false number plates and all were later confirmed to have been stolen. During a search of Patel's property, officers recovered 26 sets of car keys, as well as lists of vehicles and registrations, machines for accessing on-board computers in vehicles and programming keys and a number of mobile phones, tablets and laptops.
Following a detailed investigation a total of 19 stolen vehicles with an estimated value of 728,000 pounds were linked to Patel and subsequently seized, as well as nine sets of keys which had been stolen from Tata Motors' owned Jaguar Land Rover plant in Solihull, West Midlands, and a laptop stolen during a London burglary.
It was later discovered that Patel had been using the vehicles in the running of an "off-the-books" vehicle rental business where vehicles were rented out to his associates and contacts.
The vehicles had been stolen by unknown individuals during burglaries and keyless car thefts across London between October 2012 and January 2015 and were stored at or near addresses owned by Patel and his family, or with associates who looked after the vehicles for him or rented them from him.
The identities of the cars were concealed using legitimate insurance details of vehicles which had been written off.