Gadget Gang Sentenced Over Keyless Car Thefts Conspiracy.
Monday, October 4, 2021
Three men involved in the organised theft of keyless cars using a hi-tech gadget to trick their security systems have been sentenced today.
Over May, June and July of this year, more than 30 Mitsubishi Outlanders were stolen from addresses across West Yorkshire.
An investigation by officers from Leeds District Crime Team linked the three men to a conspiracy involving five separate thefts of the vehicles with a combined value in excess of £180,000.
Instead of having to burgle homes to steal the keys to the cars parked outside, the offenders used a handheld gizmo, with the appearance of a Nintendo Game Boy, to fool the car’s keyless entry and ignition that a legitimate keyless fob was being used.
Enquiries built up a comprehensive trail of evidence that linked the men to a conspiracy covering the five offences.
This included footage recovered from one of the men’s phones showing how quickly and easily the gadget gave them full access to the vehicles, accompanied by a commentary in mocking tones.
Dylan Armer (pictured), Thomas Poulson, and Christopher Bowes were arrested on July 20 after stealing a Mitsubishi Outlander from the driveway of house in Scholes.
CCTV showed them unplug the car from its charging point before using the ‘Game Boy’ device to unlock and start it.
As the car was reversed away it knocked down a drainpipe and damaged the car parked behind it.
The police were called and details of the suspects’ car, a Ford Galaxy, and the stolen car were passed on.
Officers searched the area and stopped the suspects’ car and arrested the three men. The stolen Outlander was also subsequently recovered.
When officers from Leeds District Crime Team searched the Galaxy, they found the ‘Game Boy’ device hidden in a concealed compartment in the vehicle.
It was examined and identified as a device used to steal Mitsubishi Outlanders. It was the first time the team had recovered this type of device.
Research showed such gadgets cost around £20,000 and can unlock and start cars in less than a minute.
Officers had recently seen an upsurge in the number of keyless thefts of Mitsubishi Outlanders, particularly in Leeds and Wakefield, with very few of the stolen vehicles recovered.
The significant investment required to buy one of the sophisticated devices suggested the thefts were planned and orchestrated crimes.
A detailed investigation, including CCTV and mobile phone data, linked those involved to the offences.
The footage recovered from Poulson’s phone showed him demonstrating the gadget while putting on an accent. The clip was also matched to him by tattoos visible on his arms.
All three were subsequently charged with conspiracy to steal motor vehicles.
Armer and Poulson pleaded guilty to the whole conspiracy but Bowes admitted only being the driver for two of the offences.
All three were sentenced at Leeds Crown Court today (4/10)
Armer, aged 29, of Scalby Road, Scarborough was sentenced to 30 months in prison, with a concurrent 18-month term for separate burglary matters; Poulson, aged 31, of Delamere Gardens, Wakefield, and Bowes, aged 33, of Willow Grove, Clifford, Wetherby, were each given 22-month sentences, suspended for two years.
Detective Inspector Vicky Vessey, of Leeds District Crime Team, said: “These men were involved in the organised theft of Mitsubishi Outlanders across West Yorkshire, which will have brought distress, trauma and inconvenience to all the victims affected by their crimes.
“The utter disregard they had for the victims, whose hard-earned vehicles were whisked away in seconds, is totally apparent from the flippant tone heard on the video footage we recovered from one of their phones.
“They were brought to justice as a result of a thorough investigation that built up a clear evidential trail linking them to the offences. We hope their convictions at court will provide some reassurance both to the victims of the thefts and the wider community.
“Unfortunately, criminals are constantly looking for opportunities to exploit technology to their advantage, and we would advise the owners of any vehicles with keyless entry and ignition, not just Mitsubishi Outlanders, to take additional security precautions such steering locks, driveways posts or wheel clamps, and to consider fitting a tracking device to assist us in tracing and recovering the vehicle should the worst should happen.”