BY JAMES TWOMEY
A man who kept stolen cars worth hundreds of thousands of pounds in his basement and used them to run a rental service has been ordered to pay more than £1million as punishment.
Chirag Patel, 40, of Frith Road in Croydon, was found guilty of handling 19 stolen vehicles in 2018 and jailed for eight years, but has now been told he has to pay back £1,369,661.90.
Patel had been using the vehicles in the running of an ‘off-the-books’ vehicle rental business where vehicles were rented out to his associates and contacts.
In February 2015 cops raided Patel’s house and arrested him after they discovered five stolen high-value vehicles in the basement car park with false number plates.
During a search of Patel’s property, officers recovered 26 sets of car keys, as well as lists of vehicles and registrations, machines for accessing on-board computers in vehicles and programming keys and a number of mobile phones, tablets and laptops.
A total of 19 stolen vehicles with an estimated value of £728,000 were linked to Patel and as well as nine sets of keys which had been stolen from Jaguar Land Rover’s plant in Solihull, West Midlands, and a laptop stolen during a burglary in the Streatham area.
The vehicles had been stolen by unknown individuals during burglaries and keyless car thefts across London between October 2012 and January 2015 and were stored at or near addresses owned by Patel and his family, or with associates who looked after the vehicles for him or rented them from him.
The identities of the cars were concealed using legitimate insurance details of vehicles which had been written off.
Patel also received a 10 year default prison sentence which will be imposed if he fails to pay back the money.
The money will be used to repay one of the insurance companies involved and reinvest funds back into policing and the Home Office.
Acting detective Sergeant Billy Clough, who led the investigation, said: “The Met is committed to ensuring that individuals commit criminality are identified, prosecuted and their criminal assets are seized.
“The significant financial investigation undertaken by Detective Constable Nick Portman should also be recognised, without which substantial criminal assets would not have been recovered.”
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