Preston criminal made more than £192,000 from vehicle theft ring

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A criminal who conspired to steal high value cars and dismantle them at a 'chop shop' in Preston has been ordered to pay back a nominal amount of £1 following a financial probe.

Mohammed Rehman, 36, of Holmfield Road, Fulwood, Preston, was one of three men who conspired to steal expensive vehicles by taking keys during house burglaries across Preston and South Ribble and is currently serving a jail sentence.

The car theft ring was exposed when a security tracker on a stolen car raised an alarm on Skeffington Road, Ribbleton, where a garage premises at the centre of the operation, was discovered.

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A probe began in September 2017 after a high value Mercedes was stolen during a burglary in Fulwood in the early hours of the morning. The security tracker of the car alerted police to the garage, where various work units were in place, with police remarking it "clearly had the appearance of a chop shop".

Mohammed Waqas Rehman CREDIT: Lancashire PoliceMohammed Waqas Rehman CREDIT: Lancashire Police
Mohammed Waqas Rehman CREDIT: Lancashire Police

Police found his co-defendant Mohammed Khan, 46, of Farringdon Close, Preston, inside the unit, with five vehicles identified as stolen from burglaries in the area over a seven week period - all of which involved sneaking in and the taking of car keys.

A search of the garage also revealed a van, stolen from Cumbria, which was partly dismantled. There were also car parts linked other stolen vehicles that had already been dismantled and disposed of.

Following Khan's arrest, officers also arrested Mohammed Waqas Rehman, who had rented the unit in his own name.

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His mobile phone was seized from him and enquiries linked James Batchelor, 24, of Hawthorn Road, Preston - a close associate of Khan's.

The men's first trial in 2018 led to a retrial in 2019 at Preston Crown Court.

Batchelor absconded from court part way through the trial, while Khan, who was wanted for other offences, failed to turn up.

Batchelor was later arrested on warrant and received four years imprisonment in September, Khan was sentenced in his absence to five years.

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Rehman forged a sick note but was eventually arrested on warrant and was also jailed for five years.

During a subsequent Proceeds of Crime Act hearing, Judge Richard Gioserano, sitting at Preston Crown Court, ruled Rehman had benefitted from his crimes to the tune of £192,458.34, but had no available assets to seize.

He was therefore given a nominal order of £1 to pay back. This means the authorities can revisit his financial affairs at a later date, should he suddenly come into money, and can seek to seize cash in the future.