Thieves stealing high value cars from Harpenden and St Albans were caught when an Audi they were using was tracked on automatic number plate recognition cameras, a jury heard today (Wednesday, October 15).
Lithuanians Mindaugas Bazuilis, 35, and Edgaras Rusteikas, 33, are alleged to have travelled from London in the silver Audi to steal Range Rovers and Land Rovers from driveways.
Prosecutor Neil King told St Albans Crown Court that the pair were caught “red handed” when the car was stopped in the early hours of December 4 last year. He said they had discovered a method of entering keyless cars and stealing them.
In the boot of the Audi, the police found a silver metal box with eight rubber antennas that screw into the top. “That device is a frequency jammer. It can jam car tracking signals,” said Mr King.
On one of three mobile phones that officers found in the Audi, they discovered what Mr King said was a “car thief’s homework.”
He said: “It was page after page of marked locations. Somebody was preparing for car thefts.”
Mindaugas Bazuilis, 35, of Blackbush Spring, Harlow and Edgaras Rusteikas, 33, of Gay Gardens, Dagenham, deny conspiracy to steal with others unknown, between November 11 and December 5 last year.
Opening the case, Mr King said: “This is a case about the sophisticated theft of keyless cars.
“The prosecution say the defendants targeted high value motor cars that all rely on keyless technology.
“They were stolen off the driveways of addresses in Hertfordshire. No one entered houses to steal keys.”
Mr King said overnight on November 22 to 23 last year a Land Rover Discovery was stolen from a driveway in The Deerings, Harpenden.
On November 25, a Range Rover Sport was taken from Green Lane, St Albans. CCTV showed the keyless theft of the car.
Three days later, on November 28, two men of East European appearance dressed in black were seen in Aldwickbury Crescent, Harpenden by neighbours trying to steal a Range Rover Evoque. In that case, they failed when the alarm went off, said the prosecutor.
But on the same night, a Range Rover Sport was stolen from Park Mount in Harpenden and a Land Rover Discovery was taken from Farm Avenue, Harpenden.
Then, overnight on December 1 to 2, a Range Rover Sport was stolen from Morten End Lane in Harpenden.
Mr King said the police analysed ANPR technology and saw a pattern that linked the Audi to the thefts.
It was often in the area before and after the cars were taken.
A ‘stop marker’ was put on the Audi on the police national computer.
At 1.30 in the morning on December 4 it was seen on the A1M near South Mimms and was stopped on the northbound carriageway.
Both men were arrested – Rusteikas was driving and Bazuilis was in the front passenger seat.
Three phones were seized along with the cash and jammer.
The car was insured by Bazuilis, and Rusteikas was the registered keeper, said Mr King.