Two men behind the theft of more than £1million worth of keyless-entry cars across the UK have been jailed for more than four years.
Juozas Baltors (pictured left), 28, and Darius Lukauskas (pictured right), 31, were convicted following a seven-day trial for conspiracy to steal vehicles at Peterborough Crown Court this week.
The pair conspired to steal 26 keyless-entry vehicles from 10 counties across England, before having them delivered to a ‘chop-shop’ in Peterborough where the vehicles were dismantled and thought to have been shipped out of the county.
During the early hours of the morning, and using sophisticated ‘relay’ equipment, they would scan and obtain victims’ vehicle key frequencies from inside their homes which enabled them to then start up the vehicles and drive them away.
PC Jeremy Turner, from Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s Acquisitive Crime Team, said: “Members of organised crime groups deliver stolen vehicles to ‘chop shops’, often concealing the vehicle’s identity initially using cloned number plates and blocking tracker signals using ‘jamming’ devices which stop the vehicle’s location from being emitted. The valuable vehicle parts are then loaded onto lorries and exported out of the country.”
On 13 April, 2020, Baltors was stopped by road policing officers in Peterborough after they spotted a BMW X5 being driven on cloned number plates. Checks revealed the BMW had in fact been stolen from Hampshire 10 days prior and a search of the vehicle revealed a ‘jamming’ device in the glovebox, resulting in Baltors’ arrest.
A search of his home in Figtree Walk, Dogsthorpe, Peterborough, uncovered two further industrial-strength jamming devices and images on his mobile phone showed the dismantling of multiple high-value vehicles.
The following day, officers used a set of keys found on Baltors at his time of arrest to open up an industrial unit in Ivatt Way, Peterborough, where they found two vehicles in the process of being dismantled; an Audi Q7 which had been stolen a few hours previous in Maidenhead, and a BMW 7 series stolen from Leicester on 9 April.
Parked outside the unit was a Mercedes Sprinter Luton van which was displaying cloned number plates and had been stolen from the Walsall area of the West Midlands on 17 February.
Searches of the unit uncovered further cloned number plates, two further jamming devices and parts and number plates belonging to seven further stolen vehicles that had been dismantled.
DC Craig Trevor, also from Cambridgeshire’s Acquisitive Crime Team, said: “Baltors was initially charged with conspiracy to steal 10 vehicles, however it was clear Baltors was not working alone and this was just the tip of the iceberg.
“From his mobile phone, further stolen vehicles were identified as well as another offender, Darius Lukauskas, who would call Baltors when he was on his way to Peterborough with a stolen vehicle.”
On 26 June, Lukauskas, of Basingstoke Road, Reading, was arrested in Berkshire and later charged with conspiracy to steal vehicles.
Baltors and Lukauskas were linked to the theft of 26 vehicles valued at £1,010,813, between February and May last year (2020):
- Mercedes Sprinter Luton van stolen from Blakenall Bloxwich, Walsall, West Midlands on 17 February (£13,720)
- Range Rover Sport stolen from Datchet, Slough, Berkshire on 19 February (£28,000)
- BMW M2 stolen from Grange Park, Northampton on 28 February (£38,000)
- BMW 740D stolen from Grange Park, Northampton on 28 February (£93,000)
- Mercedes GLE 350 stolen from Withy Mead, Chingford, London on 4 March (£38,000)
- BMW X5 stolen from Upminster, Essex on 6 March (£32,000)
- BMW 760LI stolen from Chesham Bois, Buckinghamshire on 6 March (£28,000)
- BMW 435D stolen from Amersham, Buckinghamshire on 6 March (£20,800)
- Mercedes GLC 250 stolen from Wokingham, Berkshire on 7 March (£32,000)
- BMW X5 stolen from Tring, Hertfordshire on 12 March (£70,000)
- BMW 760LI stolen from Tring, Hertfordshire on 12 March (£57,700)
- BMW M2 stolen from Alton, Hampshire on 20 March (£31,600)
- BMW X5 stolen from Wokingham, Berkshire on 21 March (£25,000)
- BMW 220D from Wokingham, Berkshire on 21 March (£17,500)
- BMW 420I stolen from Harrow, Middlesex on 21 March (£23,000)
- Range Rover Sport stolen from Horton Heath, Hampshire on 29 March – later recovered (£48,000)
- BMW 420D stolen from Bracknell, Berkshire on 30 March (£24,000)
- Mercedes GLE 350 stolen from Grays, Essex on 31 March (£59,000)
- BMW X5 stolen from Hartley Whitney, Hampshire on 4 April (£60,000)
- Ford Mustang GT stolen from Woking, Surrey on 7 April (£27,700)
- BMW X4 stolen from Hamilton, Leicester on 9 April (£37,500)
- BMW 740E stolen from Syston, Leicester on 9 April (£35,000)
- Audi Q7 stolen from Maidenhead, Berkshire on 14 April (£74,000)
- BMW 730 stolen from Shinfield, Berkshire on 13 May (£29,000)
- BMW 530 stolen from Hartley Whitney, Hampshire on 14 May (£47,827)
- Mercedes 250 stolen from Twyford, Berkshire on 23 May (£20,466)
The pair both denied charges of conspiracy to steal 26 vehicles however, at the conclusion of a seven-day trial at Peterborough Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday 26 January), both men were found guilty.
Baltors was also convicted of breaching a deportation order after he returned to the UK under a different name just eight days after being deported by Kent Police in February last year. The deportation order came as a result of him being convicted of perjury, theft offences and possession of an offensive weapon in 2019.
Today (Wednesday 27 January), they were each sentenced to four years and six months in prison. Baltors was sentenced to an additional three months for breaching the deportation order and disqualified from driving for three years, starting from his release from prison, for driving while uninsured.
PC Turner added: “This result today comes after many months of investigation into an organised crime group committing keyless vehicle thefts. In just 97 days, Baltors and Lukauskas played pivotal roles in stealing more than a million pounds worth of vehicles from across 10 counties.
“They took advantage of flaws in modern vehicle security and took numerous steps to try to thwart a police investigation. I would strongly suggest all owners of keyless entry/start vehicles review their vehicle security – the best advice is to take a layered approach to protecting the vehicle in order to make it more difficult and time consuming to steal. Criminals look for the easiest option and will move on if they deem a theft will take too long.
“Contact your vehicle’s manufacturer for specific advice but also consider low-tech options such as pedal boxes, steering wheel locks, key fob suppression pouches/boxes, keeping vehicle keys away from your home’s windows and doors, parking non-keyless vehicles in a defensive manner to block in keyless vehicles and if you have barriers such as gates, bollards or a garage, use them.”