South African Police Net UK Car Syndicate

Twenty luxury autos, with a total value of over 22 million rand, went missing in Britain. Police in this country worked with South African authorities to recover the vehicles in South Africa. Included in the lot were four BMWs, six Range Rovers, and several Volvos, Mercedes, and Audis. A sophisticated crime syndicate based in London is being named as the thief.

The syndicate reportedly stole the vehicles and shipped them to Africa in exchange for cash and drugs. According to Detective-Constable Vince Wise with the Association of Police Officers Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (AVCIS), these cars are only the tip of a very large iceberg. He estimates that about 80 percent of luxury cars stolen within the UK eventually end up in Africa.

Det-Const Wise estimated that “hundreds of thousands” of stolen luxury autos leave the borders of the UK in a smuggled fashion. Earlier in 2011, this particular smuggling route was discovered when police at Felixstowe Docks managed to intercept some stolen luxury cars bound for Port Elizabeth. These cars were in shipping containers logged as holding household items for individuals relocating to South Africa from the UK.

Durban and Port Elizabeth are not the only destinations for stolen cars. Through further investigation, authorities learned that cars were also being sent to Dar es Salaam and Mombasa. After arriving at these parts, the cars traveled the roadways to arrive at Rwanda, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Investigators have made more than a dozen arrests since the bust in Felixstowe.

Authorities in the UK and South Africa continue to investigate this trend and more arrests are anticipated. The 20 cars recently recovered were stolen during hijackings, house burglaries, and diplomatic embassies. In some cases, thieves approached dealers with feigned interest in vehicles and car loans, but raced off during their test drives.