Police charge five after 26 stolen vehicles and vessels worth $1.25 million recovered

Detectives have charged five people and recovered 26 stolen vehicles and vessels worth more than $1.25 million, as part of an ongoing investigation into a coordinated rebirthing criminal syndicate.

In November last year, detectives from the Financial Crimes Squad’s Motor Unit established Strike Force Piddington to investigate fraudulent CTP green slips linked to the coordinated theft, rebirthing and on-sale of stolen motor vehicles and vessels by a criminal syndicate operating across Sydney.

Between May and June 2020, Strike Force Piddington investigators conducted numerous search warrants at locations across Sydney, including Ermington, Lidcombe, Granville, Kentlyn, Yennora and Telopea.

During the searches, police seized six stolen vessels, six stolen boat trailers and 12 stolen vehicles – including three Landcruiser utility’s owned-by and purpose-built for the NSW Rural Fire Service with an estimated combined value of nearly $290,000.

Following extensive investigations, strike force detectives arrested a 25-year-old man during a vehicle stop at Turner Street, Ermington, just before midday last Wednesday (5 August 2020).

During a subsequent search of the vehicle, officers seized a mobile phone and $1,250 cash.

A short time later, investigators executed a search warrant at a home at Ermington, where they seized two stolen motorcycles with a combined estimated value of $16,850.

Officers also seized stolen vessel equipment, two mobile phones and $4000 cash.

The man was taken to Granville Police Station and charged with knowingly facilitate organised car rebirthing, participate criminal group contribute criminal activity and six counts of knowingly deal with proceeds of crime. He was granted strict conditional bail to appear at Parramatta Local Court on Tuesday 1 September 2020.

As part of ongoing inquiries, Strike Force Piddington investigators arrested a 27-year-old man at a home at Ermington and a 32-year-old man at a home at Condell Park from 6.30am on Tuesday (11 August 2020).

The younger man was taken to Parramatta Police Station and charged with knowingly facilitate organised car rebirthing, four counts of knowingly deal with proceeds of crime, steal motor vehicle, knowingly direct activities of criminal group and possess prohibited drug.

He appeared at Parramatta Local Court that day, where he was formally refused bail to reappear at the same court Thursday 8 October 2020.

The older man was taken to Bankstown Police Station and charged with two counts of receive motor vehicle part – theft (serious indictable offence), induce other to accept non-genuine unique identifier, two counts of dishonestly possess interfered with unique identifier, knowingly facilitate organised car rebirthing, participate criminal group contribute criminal activity and possess or use a prohibited weapon without permit.

He was granted strict conditional bail to appear at Bankstown Local Court on Thursday 9 September 2020.

From 8.30am on Wednesday (12 August 2020), detectives arrested a 26-year-old man at a home at Lidcombe and a 27-year-old man at a business at Seven Hills.

The younger man was taken to Auburn Police Station and charged with induce other to accept non-genuine unique identifier, participate criminal group contribute criminal activity and knowingly facilitate car rebirthing. He was granted strict conditional bail to appear at Burwood Local Court on Thursday 24 September 2020.

The older man was taken to Blacktown Police Station and charged with knowingly facilitate organised car rebirthing, participate criminal group contribute criminal activity and carry on business of motor vehicle repairer when unlicensed. He was granted strict conditional bail to appear at Blacktown Local Court on Thursday 24 September 2020.

Financial Crimes Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Linda Howlett, said the Motor Unit would continue to work closely with other agencies to combat the issue of organised car theft and re-birthing.

“Strike Force Piddington investigators have uncovered an organised criminal enterprise involved in the coordinated theft of vehicle and vessels across Sydney,” Det Supt Howlett said.

“If you know or suspect individuals or a motor business is involved in fraudulent activity, or if a car re-birthing syndicate may be operating in your area, please call Crime Stoppers.

“While these are not generally violent crimes – they have the ability to financially cripple hard-working members of our society – which will not be tolerated by law enforcement,” Det Supt Howlett said.

Financial Crimes Squad’s Motor Unit Investigations Coordinator, Detective Chief Inspector Con Galea, said detectives have conducted a thorough and extensive investigation into the operations of this criminal syndicate.

“Police will allege in court that these individuals were involved in a criminal syndicate linked to the theft and rebirthing of 26 cars, motorcycle, boats and trailers with a combined value of more than $1.25 million,” Det Ch Insp Galea said.

“Included in these seizures were three purpose-built vehicles owned by the NSW Rural Fire Service that police will allege were stolen from Yennora in April this year.

“These are emergency service vehicles, that are essential resources for the organisation and the community – particularly after what the state endured last summer.

“In addition, members of the community who have been targeted by the activities of this group have experienced significant financial hardship, as some of the equipment and tools that were allegedly stolen, were not covered through insurance.

“These arrests should act as a warning to anyone involved in organised motor vehicle theft and rebirthing that specialist police will investigate to find you and put you before the courts,” Det Ch Insp Galea said.

Investigations under Strike Force Piddington are continuing and further arrests are expected.

Anyone with information about organised car theft and re-birthing is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence.

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