A car thief who posed as a recovery driver for a finance company to steal cars worth more than £150,000 has been jailed for five years.
The collection of 12 stolen vehicles, which included a brand new BMW, was discovered after a spate of car thefts in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham.
An investigation was launched and a police officer trawled through hours of CCTV footage before noticing a transporter truck appeared regularly around the time of the thefts.
The vehicle was traced to a factory unit in Keen Street, Smethwick, where a warrant was executed in May last year.
Police found items belonging to the cars’ owners, as well as the front end of the 60-plate BMW stolen from Somerset Road, Edgbaston, and an Audi A4 taken from Rolfe Street, Smethwick.
None of the other vehicles taken in March and April last year was found in the unit but a number of receipts from a local scrap merchant showed that car body shells had been sold to them unwittingly.
The unit owner, Robert Lowe-Thompson, aged 27, from Devonshire Road, Handsworth Wood, was arrested on suspicion of the thefts, but denied the offences.
Pc Leanne Chapman, who was part of the investigation team, said: “Lowe-Thompson was a man with no previous convictions, yet he spun an elaborate web of lies, producing documents from a finance company, allowing him to ‘recover’ the vehicles.
“These documents all turned out to be false, and he was also charged with fraud.
“While on bail, Lowe-Thompson continued his fraudulent activity as he attempted to secure finance on another low-loader using false bank statements.
“He was re-arrested and had no option but to plead guilty to a further charge of fraud.”
At his trial at Birmingham Crown Court, Lowe-Thompson produced a statement and an invoice from a witness, so the trial was adjourned in order to question the witness.
Again the statement turned out to be false and on August 6 Lowe-Thompson was arrested for perverting the course of justice.
Lowe-Thompson finally faced the charges at Birmingham Crown Court on September 4 and after a five-day trial, the jury found him guilty on all counts.
He was sentenced on Tuesday to three and a half years for each of the 12 car thefts to run concurrently, 18 months for two charges of perverting the course of justice to run concurrently with each other, but consecutively to the thefts.
He also received eight months for each of the two fraud charges to run concurrently.