Two car thieves who used sophisticated electronics kit to try to steal expensive cars were recorded on the owners’ CCTV and smart doorbells, a judge heard today (Monday, December 7).
Lithuanians Simnaz Martisius, 27, and Arnos Pugzlys, 22, targeted four high-value vehicles from outside homes in Bushey Heath in the early hours of January 21 this year, but were not able to drive off in them.
Prosecutor Joshua Normanton said: “At around two o’clock in the morning, four attempts were made to steal expensive, premium vehicles. All the attempts were seen on CCTV or smart doorbells.”
Mr Normanton said the pair had with them ‘Relay Attack’ tools, worth a minimum of £5,000, which are used to pick up signals sent from ‘smart’ car keys.
He told Judge Caroline Wigin: “You have the key in your pocket and if you touch the door handle the vehicle sends out a limited signal to allow you to open the door. You press a button to start the vehicle if it recognises that you have the key with you.”
The Relay Attack equipment, which can be bought on the dark web, extends the range of the signal from the key enabling it to be activated from a greater distance, allowing a car to be unlocked and started even if the key is in a house.
He said Arnos Pugzlys was seen near a targeted car with a device that was disguised as a cheap radio, in an attempt to pick up the signal.
Four attempts were made to steal three Landrover Discoveries and a Range Rover Evoque, from The Comyns area of Bushey Heath. The cars were worth an average of £35,000 each.
One of the residents was woken at 2am when she received a notification on her phone from her doorbell that someone was outside. She called the police. The pair tried to run off but were arrested nearby. Footage from the other addresses showed them targeting other cars.
Martisius of Gledwood Gardens, Hayes and Pugzlys, of Wilmington Gardens, Barking pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal a motor vehicle. (Singular). They had been due to stand trial for conspiracy to steal motor vehicles.
Martisius had previous convictions for theft and fraud. Pugzlys was of previous good character. Both men had been held in custody since January 21 – the equivalent of a 22-month jail sentence.
For Pugzlys, Christopher Whitehouse said he was young, had no previous convictions and had pleaded guilty. He said there had been no actual loss.
Judge Caroline Wigin jailed Martisius for 22 months and Pugzlys for 20 months. Because of the time they have spent on remand in prison, it means Martisius will spend about two more weeks in jail and Pugzlys will be immediately released. They will now face deportation.
The judge said: “Either through lack of skill or because they chose the wrong vehicles, they were unsuccessful. On each occasion they were seeking to steal high-end vehicles with an average value of £35,000.”