A criminal group stole 10 HGV trailers laden with goods including laptops, household appliances and medical supplies, from transport hubs across Birmingham, Suffolk, the East Midlands, Leicestershire and Merseyside.
On Monday 19 December police saw three men sentenced for a combination of 22 years thanks to a lengthy investigation carried out by detectives at West Midlands Police.
Matthew Wilkes and Alan Edwards were found guilty of conspiracy to steal BMW cars, lorries and trailers from across the country. Conrad Pearce was found guilty of conspiracy to steal HGVs and trailers. The men have been in prison since 2021 while they waited for their trial.
Their crimes involved stealing high value BMW vehicles and HGV cabs and trailers laden with goods during 2019 and 2020. Their haul included seven BMW cars valued at £336k and goods to the value of around £1 million.
They worked together to steal high value BMW cars from dealerships and sales forecourts across the country during 2019 and 2020. The cars were stolen from Worcester, Cheshire, Hampshire, Thames Valley, London, Avon and Somerset.
They used a stolen HGV cab on false plates to hook up the trailers. They would then drive the trailers away, park them securely and keep changing the registration plates on their stolen cab to avoid detection.
In one of their crimes, a trailer containing Dell Chrome books costing over £500k was stolen. The consignment of computers came from government funding during Covid-19 and were destined for under privileged children during lockdown.
The sophisticated set up was uncovered by officers from the force’s CID Priorities Team who linked the offences and the thieves to the crimes.
The men were arrested in March 2021 and when they searched their homes they found sophisticated tech including scanners, key cloning equipment, tracker and tracer radios to track vehicles and block communication signals.
Large quantities of cash, sets of registration plates, mobile phones used as burner or clean phones and counting machines were also found.
Footage found on Matthew Wilkes’s phone showed that he had filmed himself stealing a BMW.
The men were convicted at Birmingham Crown Court and on 19 December received the following sentences.
Matthew Wilkes, aged 31 of Willows House, Droitwich, was sentenced to six years for conspiracy to steal BMWs, six years for conspiracy to steal HGVs and trailers to be served concurrently.
Alan Edwards, aged 39 of Portland Drive, Tividale, Birmingham was jailed for four years for conspiracy to steal BMWs, four years for conspiracy to steal HGVs to be served concurrently.
Conrad Pearce, aged 25 of Keats Road, Wolverhampton was jailed for two years four months for conspiracy to steal HGVs and trailers.
The officer who led the investigation, Detective Constable Mark Plant, said: “The offences took place nationally from as far afield as Liverpool, London, Southampton Ipswich. With vehicle crime recognised as a Police priority, we uncovered a sophisticated operation with only one of the stolen BMW’s ever being recovered.
The loss of contracts to the victims and huge insurance losses only further burdens the transport industry which ultimately results in higher prices for consumers. Hopefully with the three thieves now serving prison sentences, the victims can feel a little bit of justice has been served.”