Organised Lithuanian Gang Jailed
A gang of organised Lithuanian criminals have been jailed for their part in a plot to steal high value vans to order.
Two of them - Vytautas Cernauskas, 37, and Mindaugas Zabiela, 35 - flew into the UK the night before they stole one Mercedes van and tried to steal another.
They were collected at the airport by compatriot Remigijus Ramunis, 37, who had been in the UK for five months, Hull Crown Court heard. A fourth member of the gang is still at large.
Hannah Walker, prosecuting, said a granite fitter who parked his work Mercedes Sprinter at home in Market Weighton went to get something from it 2.55am on March 26 and was surprised to find it unlocked, having parked it securely the previous evening.
He looked inside and found the dashboard damaged. Concerned about what had happened, the man checked the van again at 4.30am, and at 5am found it had been stolen. The vehicle, which was valued at £18,720, was never seen again. It also contained £4,000 of tools.
Miss Walker said he had noticed a Thrifty hire van in the area at the time, and also a blue Vauxhall Vectra, which "drove past him".
"It confused him and shocked him; he didn't know where the car had come from," Miss Walker said.
The man rang a colleague to alert him. He also kept his work Mercedes van - valued at £17,500 - at home in Market Weighton. He had been up at 3.45am and realised the dashboard on his van was damaged, and the ignition barrel was missing.
The colleague also noticed a blue Vectra at the bottom of the road.
The first van was fitted with a tracker, which showed it travelling towards Beverley at 4.48am, briefly stopping in a layby in Bishop Burton. The Vectra was also seen travelling towards Beverley, and at 5.40am it was found parked in a petrol station in Hull Road.
Cernauskas, Zabiela, and Ramunis were in it with the stolen tools. Cernauskas was also in possession of £1,360. His barrister, Cathrine Kioko-Gilligan, said he had faced a charge in relation to the cash but prosecutors offered no evidence after he was able to provide receipts showing he had legitimately changed the money before arriving in the UK.
He was intending to buy a vehicle with it, she said.
In police interview, Cernauskas "could not explain how they got there". Zabiela said he was "travelling to York to find work", while Ramunis claimed the tools "had been in the car when he bought it".
Ramunis, of Plane Street, west Hull, admitted theft and attempted theft. He had no previous convictions.
Cernauskas, of the same address, admitted theft and attempted theft. He had five previous convictions in Germany for theft, falsifying documents, and drugs trafficking.
Zabiela, of Wilberforce Road, Leicester, admitted theft and attempted theft. He had 33 aliases and convictions in the UK for theft, drink-driving, and attempted theft. He also had four convictions in Germany and one in Belgium.
We cannot get out of the EU soon enough. Hundreds of thousands of East European criminals will have to find another country to leech off and terror.