STANSTED AIRPORT: Five men sentenced in stolen car ring operation

FIVE Lithuanian men from east London have today (Thursday) been sentenced to a total of more than 16 years’ imprisonment for their part in a �750,000 stolen car ring.

Operation Nidus was the police investigation into the theft of at least 40 high-value cars from Stansted Airport.

The crimes were discovered after gang members hired an Audi A4, a Mercedes C180 and a Vauxhall Astra from hire companies at the airport in April 2009. All three of these cars were not returned and were later recovered with cloned identities.

The gang received stolen cars taken from homes across London and the Home Counties where burglaries had been committed to obtain the keys before being driven away. They specialised in handling stolen BMWs, Mercedes, Audis and top-of-the-range Volkswagens.

Krzystof Nowicki, a 38-year-old unemployed man of no fixed address; and 34-year-old unemployed Eduadas Masiulis from Grays Inn Road in London, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to handle stolen vehicles earlier this year. The remaining four defendants, 35-year-old carpenter Joanas Bondarenko from Williams Avenue in Walthamstow; 28-year-old unemployed Vidmantas Lajauskas from Trefgarne Road in Dagenham; 33-year-old unemployed Nerijus Jarusevicius from Osborne Square in Dagenham; and 23-year-old builder Kamil Dudko from Coopers Lane in Leyton were all convicted on Thursday June 3 following an eight-week trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.

Joanas Bondarenko was convicted in his absence, having failed to attend his trial while Kamil Dudko fled halfway through it. Both of these men have been circulated as wanted and enquiries are underway to trace their whereabouts.

At Chelmsford Crown Court on today (Thursday July 1) Joanas Bondarenko was identified as the ringleader. He was given a seven-year prison sentence. Vidmantas Lajauskas and Nerijus Jarusevicius were each given three-and-a-half-year prison sentences while Kamil Dudko was given a 22-month prison sentence and Krzystof Nowicki given a one-year suspended prison sentence.

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Investigating Officer, Dc Jean Seager, said: “This was organised crime on a large scale, but the men made the mistake of linking their crime to the airport where our sophisticated security systems proved to be their undoing.

“The high level of security around UK airports meant that we had access to information and databases and were able to identify vehicles and bank accounts that led us to arrest all six men.”

The crimes were detected because of the enhanced security arrangements surrounding Stansted Airport and officers were able to interrogate information captured on security databases at the airport which enabled them to identify vehicles and bank accounts that led to the arrests.

Crown Prosecution Service prosecutor, Anil Patani, said: “These men would specifically target high-value vehicles and in quick time would change their identity and sell them on.

“Using this method they have been able to obtain what looks like valid paperwork for the vehicles so they can advertise them without being noticed. They have intentionally and repeatedly manipulated innocent members of the public for their own financial gain.

“We are pleased that this case has been brought to a successful conclusion and that these men will no longer be able to carry out their criminal activity on the streets of Essex.

“We hope that all those targeted by this gang can put this behind them and we would like to take this opportunity to thank them for coming forward and assisting the prosecution.”

Eduadas Masiulis is due to be sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court tomorrow (Friday July 2).