A man who shamelessly drove his £55,000 car bearing a bragging registration plate, unwittingly led police to his multi-million pound car theft racket in Birmingham.
30-year-old Shanwaz Khan – the mastermind of the gang, brazenly drove his blue Audi RS4 with his ‘S20LUN’ personalised number plate, but his flashing around only succeeded in getting him noticed by police who decided to track his car and found it among a convoy of stolen Mercedes in March 2012.
Detectives launched a six-month investigation into his dealings and found he was behind a ring that stole cars to order before shipping parts abroad.
On October 15, 2012 officers raided his home and lock-ups across Birmingham and found an 'Aladdin's cave' of chopped up car parts stolen from across the city.
A court heard in total police linked Khan to more than 80 vehicle thefts and violent car-jackings during 2012 - valued at £1.1 million.
Khan admitted conspiracy to commit burglary and handle stolen goods and at Birmingham Crown Court and was jailed for seven years.
Along with his brother Wajid Khan (24) cousin Seyed Khan (32) and fellow conspirators Ross and Matthew Dunham the gang stole vehicles from driveways and car-jacked other victims.
A court heard upwards of 3,000 parts stripped from the cars were sold on to unwitting internet buyers via an eBay account operated by the Khans.
Wajid Khan and Seyed Khan, both from Birmingham, admitted conspiracy to handle stolen goods and were both sentenced to 30 months behind bars.
Ross, 21, and Matthew Dunham, 24, from Coventry, West Mids, were jailed for five years and 39 months respectively.
After the case Detective Constable Mo Azir, from West Midlands Police said: “We meticulously pieced together their network of premises and, when officers raided one unit in Aston, we found an Aladdin’s cave of stolen cars and parts.
“Many of these were high-value luxury cars that had been brutishly ’chopped’ up, whilst another premises in the city centre was used exclusively to store engines ripped from the stolen cars.
“The scale of their criminal operation was vast and they showed a complete disregard to the trail of destruction and misery left behind to victims of these offences.”
The gang were linked to 82 vehicle thefts during 2012 all but 17 in the West Midlands with Audis and BMWs their favoured vehicles.
They included a petrol station car-jacking at a Total garage when a man was dragged from behind the wheel of his £25,000 Ford Focus ST.
And in the early hours of April 27th they stole two Mercedes C-Class from a driveway in having grabbed keys during a break-in.
Late on June 11th they drove off in a Seat Leon from outside a house in Coventry’s Standard Avenue.
However, the owner spotted her car being driven around Coventry on false plates the next day and later picked Matthew Dunham out as the driver during an ID procedure.
The court heard Shanwaz Khan was responsible for stripping down cars and storing parts at industrial units across the West Midlands.
He also rented space at City Self Storage, in Digbeth, Birmingham, to stash stolen engines before shipping many of them abroad.
Det Con Azir added: “The premises were leased by the Khans using false names and documentation of the cars were stolen to order for engines which the Khans shipped out to the continent.
“All five are subject of on-going Proceeds of Crime Act investigations and we’ll look to seize any assets obtained through criminal activities.”