Car theft gang jailed

West Midlands Police has helped put a group of car thieves behind bars after detectives linked them to a string of nasty car-jackings plus thefts in which vehicles were towed away using a pick-up truck.

Sarweeth Rehman and Hussun Ashraf − both aged 22 − assaulted motorists with golf clubs, baseball bats or metal bars before driving off in high-end cars.

Their violent robbery spree began on 24 August last year when Rehman threatened a BMW M4 driver for his keys in Shirley’s Baxters Green.

The driver fled, hurling his keys into a garden as he ran, before rage-filled Rehman set about smashing up the M4 and causing damage estimated at £10,000.

Later that day they stole a VW Golf Type R after dragging the woman driver from behind the wheel in Hathaway Road, Shirley, and struck again on 18 September when they robbed a man of his Audi RS6 in Church Road, Moseley.

And on October 2 Rehman followed a lone female driver onto her driveway in Barston Lane, Barston, before punching her and driving off in her Mercedes C-Class Estate.

Officers tracked the RS6 less than an hour later to Spreadbury Close in Harborne − and during a search of the car found an iPhone dropped by Ashraf in his haste to flee the deposition site.

His Stuarts Road home in Stechford was raided by police on 9 November and another phone found hidden in a wardrobe was forensically shown to have been used at the scene of three more car-jackings.

It helped detectives link him to a robbery in Bracebridge Close, Balsall Common, on October 20 when a Mercedes was taken from a woman as she pulled onto her driveway, plus another two days later in Damson Lane, Solihull, when a man handed over keys to his BMW M135 having been approached by two men armed with a knife and golf club.

The third robbery saw a man wearing a balaclava drive off in a woman’s BMW M135 on 25 October from the Harvester pub car park in Boldmere Road, Sutton Coldfield.

Ashraf and Rehman − who was also arrested on 9 November from his home in Hartopp Road, Alum Rock − had been on bail at the time on suspicion of involvement in a conspiracy to steal motor vehicles.

A separate enquiry run by West Midlands Police’s Force Priorities Team exposed how they used a yellow breakdown recovery truck to tow away seven cars parked in Birmingham streets between 4 May and 13 June 2016.

It started on 4 May when a £17,000 VW Golf hire car was taken from an Avis Rental unit in Coleshill Road, Hodge Hill. They stole other cars from Stockland Road, Erdington; Chillinghome Road in Bromford; Cromwell Street, Nechells; Sladefield Road in Washwood Heath and Doncaster Way, Bromford.

Most were taken in the dead of night with owners waking to find tyre drag marks across the road where their cars had previously been parked.

Ashraf and associate Adal Azam were arrested at 11.30pm on 13 June shortly after a BMW 1 Series was stolen from St Mary’s Road in Harborne.

A police patrol car tailed the tow truck into Gowan Road, Alum Rock, where Ashraf was detained after a brief foot-chase. Azam, aged 22 from Watson Road, was arrested from a Vauxhall Corsa being driven in convoy with the truck.

Investigators found a WhatsApp message sent from Ashraf that read “got 2 cars today, M135i and a Corsa…we found them daytime” while Rehman’s phone revealed contact between him and the seller of a yellow LDV breakdown truck.

Ashraf and Rehman went on to admit conspiracy to rob and conspiracy to steal motor vehicles. They also admitted two counts of assault with intent to rob in relation to two failed car-jackings on 9 February 2017 at Moat Lane and Fazeley car-parks in Birmingham.

And at Birmingham Crown Court today (Oct 23) Ashraf was jailed for six years four months and Rehman for six years. Azam admitted being part of the tow-truck plot and was imprisoned for three years 10 months.

A fourth man, Shoaib Hussain from Primley Avenue in Bromford, pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal cars and was given a 12 month suspended jail sentence at an earlier hearing on 12 October.

One of the investigating officers, Detective Constable Chris Elmore, said: “They targeted primarily lone motorists and often female drivers… a grotesque level of violence was used and some of the victims suffered nasty injuries after being attacked with weapons.

“I’m pleased the court has recognised the extent and severity of their offending and handed down lengthy prison sentences. They have pleaded to their roles in certain offences but we suspect they may have been linked to considerably more.

“We recovered several of the stolen cars, including an Audi A1 taken with the low-loader that was found behind a row of shops in Alum Rock Road alongside an identical A1 believed to have been bought at a salvage auction.

“That provided yet more proof of cars being stolen to order for spare parts to repair vehicles that are being sold as repairable write-offs.”

West Midlands Police launched a campaign this summer to Shop a Chop Shop in which the public are urged to report garages or units suspected of stripping down stolen cars.

Anyone who suspects a premises of handling stolen cars is urged to contact West Midlands Police on 101, Live Chat via WMP Live between 8am and midnight, or contact the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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