A 36-year-old man has been jailed for the theft of stolen cars totalling over £600,000 following a four year British Transport Police (BTP) investigation.

Three other men, aged from 31 to 32, have also been sentenced for their roles in the spree of thefts dating from July 2019 to February 2020. All four men were sentenced on 15 December 2023 at Inner London Crown Court.

Jack Smith, 36, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to multiple counts of theft and for handling stolen goods and was sentenced to 90 months in prison, alongside a further six months for a separate vehicle theft in 2022, totalling eight years in jail.

Jay Tisdall, 31, from Romford, was found guilty of three counts of theft and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Michael Holmes, 32, from Rainham, was found guilty of one count of attempted theft and was sentenced to nine months in prison suspended for 18 months.

Ricky Steed, 31, from Dagenham, pleaded guilty to one count of theft and was also sentenced to 9 months in prison suspended for 18 months.

In October 2019 Operation Concrete was launched, with detectives from BTP’s Major, Serious Organised Crime Unit, investigating the series of linked offences involving the thefts and attempted thefts of a substantial number of high value cars from train station car parks and other locations within Essex.

The investigation led the BTP officers to link in with both Essex Police and the Metropolitan Police to form a joint operation targeting the series of thefts.

The spree started in late July of 2019, with Smith stealing a Range Rover from Shenfield Station car park on 24 July. The car was recovered later in the day with £25,000 worth of damage caused. DNA was recovered from the car and was later confirmed as Smith’s.

Around the same time, a transit van was stolen and later seen in a vehicle convoy in Essex alongside a car insured by Smith. A few days later, another high value car was stolen from a residential address in Romford. The car was later seen in a convoy with a car that had only three days previously been insured by Smith.

In July alone, Smith and others stole four vehicles with a value of over £100,000 combined. The court heard how in one case, Smith stole a Range Rover from a supermarket car park, and just an hour later texted his partner a photo of the car alongside the message: “Got u a new car xxx”

Overall, 18 high value cars and vans were stolen primarily between the hours of 10am and 2.30pm from station car parks after commuters had left their vehicles and before they returned.

Investigating officer DC Keef Cook said: “This sentence for Smith shows that the police and courts don’t take the theft of motor vehicles lightly, and I am extremely pleased with the result.

“The theft of a motor vehicle causes unnecessary anguish and stress to the victims not only over the loss of their vehicle, but for the loss of their personal property within the vehicle and the financial loss incurred by insurance excess and increase in premiums.

“I would like to thank our colleagues in Essex Police and Metropolitan Police for their help in securing these convictions.”

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