A NORTHFIELD man involved in a multi-million pound stolen car ring has been jailed after police found a video of him posing in one of the high-end vehicles.
Oliver Cooper can be seen in the footage, retrieved from his own mobile phone, inside a Range Rover Sport stolen from a retail park in Selly Oak.
As the camera swings round, showing the interior of the £55,000 car, Cooper’s face comes into view.
The 23-year-old was involved in at least 35 offences, from July 2021 to May 2022, in the crime spree targeting dozens of high-performance cars, across Birmingham, including Northfield, Rednal, Selly Oak, Harborne and Stirchley.
Others were stolen from Barnt Green, Rubery, Solihull, Halesowen and Oldbury.
Among the vehicles taken were 17 Range Rovers, as well as a total of 14 Audis, Jaguars and Mercedes – the total value of the stolen cars was more than £4million.
Some were stolen in car key burglaries, with homes being hit usually at night. And on one occasion the owners of two Audis were threatened at knifepoint in their own home before handing over the keys.
But many of the vehicles were taken after being parked up at shopping centres and restaurants.
Police have recovered some of the vehicles and returned them to their owners, including the Range Rover Sport taken from a retail park in Selly Oak on January 27, 2021.
Its tracker was activated and was abandoned in Grimley Road, Northfield, after a police pursuit. Officers recovered it 30 minutes after it had been taken and it was already on false plates.
But Cooper was caught after he was identified from CCTV footage captured in the minutes after a suspect fled a stolen Fiesta on February 8.
The vehicle, which had been taken in Birmingham three weeks earlier, pinged an ANPR camera in Birmingham city centre and officers began a pursuit.
The doors to car were seen to open as it hurtled through the busy streets and an offender fled.
Investigators worked with Birmingham City Council to track down CCTV from the areas officers knew where the thief had run to. The footage showed a man, later identified as Cooper.
He was arrested at his home in Sylvan Avenue, Northfield, on September 16, 2021. Two phones seized from him were analysed by digital forensic experts. From it, a number of items came to light – videos, messages and images relating to stolen vehicles and criminal activity.
Mobile phone data including times and locations linked Cooper to the offences, while video recovered from the phone showed the interior of many of the stolen cars. Experts also retrieved messages off them which listed details of the makes and models that had been taken.
Cooper, who admitted conspiracy to burgle and conspiracy to handle stolen goods, has been jailed for six years and eight months at Birmingham Crown Court.
DC Miller from West Midlands Police’s Priorities and Vulnerabilities Team, who led the investigation said: “Cooper’s mobile phones revealed to us footage from inside many of the vehicles that he’d been involved in stealing.
“They proved a goldmine for us and was vital at helping us identify the stolen vehicles, and in some cases being able to reunite them with their owners.
“But it also proved his downfall as in one clip he is caught in the shot. It helped us link him to the offences which saw dozens of expensive cars, some valued at up to £80,000, being stolen from across Birmingham.
“And we worked with Birmingham City Council to retrieve CCTV footage of him after he ran from a stolen car which we’d tracked through the city centre.
“Fighting car crime is a priority for us.”
Car crime prevention
DC Miller said everyone could play a role in helping beat car thieves by keeping vehicles locked at all times and checking vehicles are secure when left.
Steering locks should also be used and keyless fobs kept in a Faraday pouch or metal box to prevent the signal from being captured by potential thieves.
Visit https://www.securedbydesign.com/ for more car crime prevention advice.