Prolific east London gang who stole £3m in high-end cars jailed for total of 46 years

Patrick Grafton-Green
Happy meal: CCTV from a McDonald's drive thru captured two of the criminals, Mahmood and Bux, in a stolen car: Met Police

A prolific east London gang caught on camera at a McDonald’s drive-thru in one of a haul of £3 million worth of stolen cars have been jailed for 46 years.

The eight-person gang broke into peoples’ homes during the night to steal car keys before making off in expensive Range Rovers, BMWs and Mercedes.

Some of the stolen motors were exported intact to Africa while others were broken down for parts.

The criminals also drove about in minicabs emblazoned with Transport for London’s “private hire” stickers to steal keyless cars by using technology to spoof the unlocking of the car – a technique often referred to as 'keyless car theft'.

Mugshots: Khuram Zaman and gang ringleader Manji Sandhu. (Met Police)

Police caught them after raiding a pub in east London’s Manor Park on August 17 last year, belonging to the father of the gang’s ringleader, Manjit Sandhu, 32, where they found bags of stolen car keys in the basement.

Officers also found key programming technology, blank keys and a tool for picking car locks.

Sandhu went into hiding but police tracked him and his fellow gang members down during raids at their home addresses.

Guilty: Sufiyan Mahmood and Faisal Khan. (Met Police)

Police discovered the gang had carried out more 120 crimes between March 2015 and August last year, working out as more than seven a month.

A dash cam on one of the stolen BMWs caught the criminals on camera as they got in and out of the car while CCTV footage from McDonald’s drive thru pictures two of the gang members in a stolen car.

The prosecution also used evidence from Sandhu's own CCTV system to show him leaving home in the early hours of the morning in order to commit offences.

Gang members: Heena Bux and Geoffrey Cairns. Met Police car theft gang (Met Police)

Sandhu's offending was so brazen that he even committed an offence on the very same day that he received a suspended sentence for involvement in the theft of another vehicle. That incident is not related to this case.

Detective Inspector Caroline Clooney, who leads the Met's Organised Vehicle Crime Unit, said: "This was an extremely prolific and well-organised criminal gang.

Found guilty: Mohammed Ariful Islam (Met Police)

“They brought distress to many victims whose homes they broke into, who not only lost their vehicles but in many cases were traumatised by the thought of someone having been in their house while they slept.

“Although the case involved over 120 offences, it is clear that this team were responsible for an even greater number of crimes."

Sandhu, of Fairlawns Close in Hornchurch, Heena Bux, 21, of Walwood Road in Leytonstone, Khuram Zaman, 20, of Violet Road in Walhamstow and Mohammed Islam, 21, of Knox Road, Forest Gate, were all found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to steal.

Sufiyan Mahmood, 19, of Stracey Road in Forest Gate, and Faisal Khan, 23, of Chestnut Avenue, Forest Gate, both pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit burglary and to steal.

Nicked: Some of the car keys found by police in east London raids. (Met Police)

Humzah Bhariwala, 23, of Dunbar Road, Forest Gate, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary while Geoffrey Cairns, 55, of Swindon Lane, Romford was found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary after having pled guilty to conspiracy to steal.

Sandhu was sentenced to 12 years in prison, Bux was jailed for a total of nine years and six months, Zaman was sentenced to a total of four years, six months in prison and Islam was sentenced to three years in prison.

Mahmood was jailed for seven years and six months and Khan was sentenced to four years and six months in prison.

Cairns was sentenced to three years and six months in prison while Bhariwala was jailed for a total of 18 months.

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