Three arrested in raids linked to £2m conspiracy to steal Land Rovers and Range Rovers
Officers raided a number of properties in Sunderland and South Tyneside as part of the investigation into dozens of Land Rover and Range Rover thefts across the North East and discovered two cannabis farms.
It is believed that after stealing the vehicles, crime groups look to sell them on to fund other suspected criminality.
Since February 2019, officers have been alerted to more than 50 thefts of motor vehicles which are believed to be part of the £2 million conspiracy.
Yesterday (Thursday, July 16), police carried out dawn raids at four addresses - in Jarrow, New Herrington and West Boldon - and a commercial premises in Sunderland that are believed to be associated with the conspiracy.
Three men – a 36-year-old and two 33-year-olds - were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to steal motor vehicles and taken into custody for questioning.
Officers also seized three suspected stolen vehicles, as well as dozens of phones, electronic devices and hard drives that will be used to assist the ongoing investigation.
Two cannabis farms were also found – one inside the business premises and one in a house – while registration plates, Land Rover parts and more than £2,000 in cash were also located in the various addresses.
Detective Inspector Phil Cleugh and Sergeant Dave Green, of Northumbria Police, coordinated the raids and say the activity will have put a “serious dent” in the pockets of crime groups operating across Northumbria.
“These warrants were a result of months of intelligence gathering as we look to build a clearer picture into this sophisticated conspiracy spanning the whole of Northumbria,” he said.
“The activity is all about disrupting serious and organised crime in this region, and we are delighted with how the warrants went.
“We were able to arrest three suspects who have been assisting officers with their enquiries, while we also seized a huge haul of evidence that will prove invaluable moving forward.
“Two significant cannabis farms were also located inside two of the addresses that were searched, the proceeds of which we believe has been used to fund other criminality across the Force.
“We make no apology for our front-foot approach, under the banner of Operation Sentinel, and our message to the communities we serve is one of reassurance – the net is closing, and we will continue to do all we can to identify suspects and bring anyone found responsible to justice.”
Thefts have taken place across the Force area from addresses in Northumberland, Newcastle, South Tyneside, Gateshead, North Tyneside and Sunderland.
An investigation ongoing to identify those involved – with further activity planned over the coming weeks.
The three men arrested have since been released under investigation.
Anyone who has information about the thefts, or those involved in organised crime, can contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.