Mastermind of car theft racket caught - after taunting police with 'S20LUN' number plate

May 14, 2014

The ‘brazen’ mastermind of a multi-million pound car theft gang was caught after taunting police with a ’S20LUN’ personalised number plate.

Shanwaz Khan, 30, shamelessly drove his blue £55,000 Audi RS4 with the bragging registration plate after leading a car theft racket in Birmingham.

But his efforts only succeeded in getting him noticed by police who decided to track his car and found it among a convoy of stolen Mercerdes in March 2012.

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Detectives launched a six-month investigation into his dealings and found he was behind a ring that stole cars to order before shipping parts abroad.

On October 15, 2012 officers raided his home and lock-ups across Birmingham and found an 'Aladdin's cave' of  chopped up car parts stolen from across the city.

A court heard in total police linked Khan to more than 80 vehicle thefts and violent carjackings during 2012 - valued at £1.1 million.

Khan admitted conspiracy to commit burglary and handle stolen goods and at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday and was jailed for seven years.

Along with his brother Wajid Khan, 24 cousin Seyed Khan, 32, and fellow conspirators Ross and Matthew Dunham the gang stole vehicles from driveways and car-jacked other victims.

A court heard upwards of 3,000 parts stripped from the cars were sold on to unwitting internet buyers via an eBay account operated by the Khans.

Wajid Khan and Seyed Khan, both from Birmingham, admitted conspiracy to handle stolen goods and were both sentenced to 30 months behind bars.

Ross, 21, and Matthew Dunham, 24, from Coventry, West Mids, were jailed for five years and 39 months respectively.

After the case Detective Constable Mo Azir, from West Midlands Police,said: 'We meticulously pieced together their network of premises and, when officers raided one unit in Aston, we found an Aladdin’s cave of stolen cars and parts.

'Many of these were high-value luxury cars that had been brutishly ’chopped’ up, whilst another premises in the city centre was used exclusively to store engines ripped from the stolen cars.

'The scale of their criminal operation was vast and they showed a complete disregard to the trail of destruction and misery left behind to victims of these offences.

'The brazen attitude of Shanwaz Khan was typified by his personalised number plate; this was a clear jibe at the authorities and he believed his underground theft racket was going unnoticed.

'The joke is on him now, though, as he starts a long prison term.'

The gang were linked to 82 vehicle thefts during 2012  all but 17 in the West Midlands  with Audis and BMWs their favoured vehicles.

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They included a petrol station car-jacking at a Total garage when a man was dragged from behind the wheel of his £25,000 Ford Focus ST.

And in the early hours of April 27 they stole two Mercedes C-Class from a driveway in having grabbed keys during a break-in,

Late on June 11 they drove off in a Seat Leon from outside a house in Coventry’s Standard Avenue.

However, the owner spotted her car being driven around Coventry on false plates the next day and later picked Matthew Dunham out as the driver during an ID procedure.

The court heard Shanwaz Khan was responsible for stripping down cars and storing parts at industrial units across the West Midlands.

He also rented space at City Self Storage, in Digbeth, Birmingham, to stash stolen engines before shipping many of them abroad.

Det Con Azir added: 'The premises were leased by the Khans using false names and documentation of the cars were stolen to order for engines which the Khans shipped out to the continent.

'All five are subject of on-going Proceeds of Crime Act investigations and we’ll look to seize any assets obtained through criminal activities.'