Sunday 25 September 2016

Luxury cars worth €2m stolen in Ireland and destined for sale abroad seized by gardaí

Cathal McMahon

Published 12/09/2016 | 09:15

A Joint investigation between Op Waste & the Stolen Vehicle Unit recovered this cloned Mercedes E22o which was stolen from UK in July. Picture: @GardaTraffic
A Joint investigation between Op Waste & the Stolen Vehicle Unit recovered this cloned Mercedes E22o which was stolen from UK in July. Picture: @GardaTraffic

Over 170 vehicles stolen by criminal gangs in Ireland and destined for sale abroad have been seized by gardaí in less than two years.

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Operation Waste has just two garda members but the unit has already been responsible for recovering motors worth €2million.

Independent.ie has learned that the vehicles seized by the team include a brand new Range Rover, a Mercedes E-Class, BMWs and Audis.

A garda spokesperson explained that Operation Waste, a two-member team under the supervision of Inspector Michael O’Connor, was created two years ago to monitor the export of vehicles from the state to destinations such as the UK, Africa, Lithuania and Poland.

The operation initially focused entirely on Dublin Port by targeting the arrival of uninsured and dangerously loaded vehicles at the port using public roads.

More than 60 uninsured or un-roadworthy cars and heavy goods vehicles have been detained, resulting in a number of drivers being disqualified from driving for having no insurance.

In January 2015 the focus of the operation changed and the spokesperson confirmed that in the first 12 months, 91 vehicles stolen by criminal gangs were recovered by gardaí.

In total 174 vehicles have been recovered to date. The motors have an estimated value of €2 million.

One of the vehicles seized under Operation Waste
One of the vehicles seized under Operation Waste

Among the vehicles seized were a new Range Rover, Mercedes E-Class, BMW 3/5series, Audi A4 and A6 models.

Other recoveries included Nissan Qashqais, Volkswagen Golfs and other family cars. Motorcyles and commercial vehicles have also been found.

Cloned vehicles including an Audi Q7 and Toyota Avensis D-Cat were recovered before they were exported to Africa.

Dismantled Audi Q5, BMW 3 series and a 2015 VW Golf along with other vehicles were discovered in an articulated trailer destined for Eastern Europe.

All the vehicles had been stolen during the course of burglaries or the keys had been fished through the letterboxes of Irish’ homes using magnetic poles.

As well as port inspections with TFS Waste Management and Customs X-Ray Scanner team, the unit also employs Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology and intelligence analysis to track stolen and cloned vehicles on the capital’s roads.

Operation Waste has also recovered a number of stolen vehicles bearing false registration plates and documents, listed for sale on popular websites.

In some circumstances these vehicles had already been sold on to unsuspecting buyers.

Operation Waste has been closely assisted by the Stolen Motor Vehicle Investigation Unit, NBCI in relation to the identification of stolen vehicles and the sale of stolen vehicles using false documents.

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