A cache of 29 cars stolen in Britain has been found in Uganda, after detectives tracked a stolen Lexus to the African country.
The tracking device fitted to the Lexus RX450h was triggered when the car was stolen in London in April this year. It was then tracked using a smartphone app to Le Havre in France, where it was put on a ship to Oman, then another to Kenya before it was finally taken overland to Uganda.
Detectives from the National Crime Agency (NCA) travelled out to Uganda to recover the Lexus and were astonished to find it among 28 other luxury cars stolen from the UK, worth around £1 million, in a compound in the country’s capital, Kampala. All the cars had been stolen and smuggled out to Africa by the same criminal gang.
Land-locked Uganda still drives on the left, a hang-over from British colonial times. Demand for right-hand-drive luxury cars and SUVs is high, but importing brand new cars is difficult and expensive. Smuggling stolen cars reduces the problems and realises huge profits for the gangs behind the thefts.
NCA regional manager Paul Stanfield, who led the investigation, said: “This investigation is an excellent example of the close co-operation between the UK National Crime Agency, National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, Interpol and [anti-fraud investigators] APU to tackle the increasing threat from organised vehicle crime.
“Working with the police and security services in Kenya and Uganda, we have been able to dismantle an international criminal network that has been responsible for stealing high-value cars from the UK and exporting them to Easy Africa.”
Aside from the Lexus, the stolen cars included Range Rovers, Audis and BMWs. It is thought most of them were stolen with devices that mimic the cars’ keyless entry systems. An estimated 10,000 such thefts have happened in London so far this year, out of a total of 40,000.
The cars found in Uganda are in the process of being returned to the UK.
By Only Motors