A gang of three men were yesterday sentenced to a combined total of seven years in prison for conspiracy to handle stolen motor vehicles in Doncaster.
The South Yorkshire Police investigation, called Operation Associates, was established to investigate a criminal gang headed by Mawloud Hussein who operated from the village of Branton.
Stolen cars from throughout the country, including Doncaster and as far as Essex and Manchester were bought by the gang and taken to a garage on industrial units at Quarry Lane, off Doncaster Road.
The three men set up a hand car wash to front their illegal activities.
The stolen cars included prestige models such as Mercedes, BMW, and Audi, as well as Vauxhalls and Fords.
They were used as donor vehicles and broken down into component parts to repair legitimate accident-damaged cars, the court was told.
The cars were then sold onto unsuspecting customers. In excess of £364,000 worth of stolen vehicles were handled by the gang.
Mohammed Ismail, 32, of Mulberry Close, Parkgate, Rotherham, Mawloud Hussein, 39, of Keyworth Close, Askern, and Asor Ahmed, 33, of Concord Meadows, Wheatley, both Doncaster, were caught on CCTV at units on the Branton industrial estate.
Over a period of six weeks in December 2011 and January 2012, they were filmed taking possession of a number of vehicles at the units.
All three men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to handle stolen motor vehicles when they appeared at Sheffield Crown Court.
Hussein was sentenced to five years, Ahmed to 13 months and Ismael to nine months.
PC Jo Butler said: “It is believed most of these cars were stolen with the vehicle’s keys, modern security features make it virtually impossible to steal cars without the keys.
“Burglaries took place where keys were left on windowsills, on the bottom of staircases or on kitchen sides, making them easy targets for thieves.
“Whilst this gang were not linked directly to committing the burglaries, their activities clearly provided an outlet and fuelled the burglars who appeared to steal to order.
“Handling stolen property, whether intentional or not, is a serious crime and will not be tolerated. I would like to thank the community in coming forward with information to help us with this investigation.”