The thieves used two methods to retrieve and access their chosen targets, both requiring ‘insiders’ working in their respective industries.
Airport car parks with valet parking were targeted, with the insider attaching the tracking device to chosen vehicles and assisting the thieves to make a clone of the car’s smart key.
The gang was allegedly using software from Jaguar Land Rover in some cases to assist with making the fake smart keys.
Weeks or even months later, the thieves would track the car to its current location and use the fake key to steal it.
Thieves would also cause minor damage to target vehicles in traffic, before recommending a smash repairer who was also working for them.
The repairer would again attach a tracking device and clone the vehicle’s smart key, before the owner would notice their car was stolen in the weeks or months following the repairs.
The jury was told police were “scratching their heads” over the crimes, before sending their own car to the suspect smash repairer, fitted with hidden recording devices and a GPS of its own.
Smash repairers noticed the hidden spy items during the repairs and removed them, but police had already recorded some of the audio elsewhere, including the voice of a mechanic notifying the workshop owner of the recording devices.
When the police collected the car, they discovered their recording equipment had been removed.
The vehicle’s spare key no longer functioned, as the thieves were unable to reprogram it when they released they had been set up and removed the cloned key’s data from the vehicle.
Most of the stolen vehicles were sent to Belgium before being forwarded to East Africa; only one has been recovered so far.
The trial continues.