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11 years for pair who profited from £1million of stolen vehicles

Published: 24 April 2019

Updated: 24 April 2019

Two men who handled more than £1 million worth of stolen vehicles have been jailed for 11 years after a major investigation led by the Metropolitan Police’s Organised Vehicle Crime Unit.

The two men were targeted after it was believed they were selling stolen motorcycles and vans on eBay. Mantas Balciunas, 35, of Midsomer Norton, Somerset was found guilty of handling stolen goods and conspiracy to handle stolen goods. He was sentenced to a total of seven-and-a-half years’ imprisonment.

His accomplice, Liaqat Ali, 47, of Ilford, Essex was found guilty of conspiracy to handle stolen goods and was sentenced to four years and three months’ imprisonment.

Over the course of the investigation, the police were able to identify more than a 100 vehicles that the pair were responsible for handling over the course of five years, with a value in excess of £1 million. The pair took stolen vehicles from London which they either dismantled to sell as parts, or disguised the identities and sold them on to unknowing buyers.

In June 2017 officers searched Balciunas’ home where they found two stolen Sprinter vans. Later searching his work unit they found a number of stolen vans, with one containing more parts from stolen vans carefully packed around a stolen motorcycle. In the unit were more stolen bikes, many with cloned identities.

Police found a stolen bike hidden inside a van

All told, Balciunas sold more than 40 stolen vehicles via his three eBay accounts. In a search of Ali’s home and business address, police found parts from stolen vehicles taken by a variety of methods, including keyless theft. In a container linked to Balciunas, the police also found an etching machine used to alter VINs.

"These two men ran a prolific and well-organised criminal enterprise," says Detective Constable Gavin Smith of the Met’s Organised Vehicle Crime Unit. "Balciunas was prepared to go to great lengths to convince purchasers that they were purchasing a legitimate vehicle.

"I hope today’s sentence serves as a deterrent to those involved in this type of brazen criminality."

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