Two men jailed for roles in £1m Mercedes Sprinter van theft conspiracy
PUBLISHED: 06:30 29 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:26 29 May 2020
Two men have been jailed for their roles in an “organised and highly sophisticated” conspiracy to steal more than £1m worth of Mercedes Sprinter vans.
Over a six-week period Ignas Bielevicius and Dzanetas Simanskas became embroiled in a large scale operation which revolved around the thefts of Mercedes vans, Norwich Crown Court heard.
The operation involved vans being delicately broken into overnight, their ignition barrels stolen and driven to London and duplicated. These would then be driven back to the region and refitted into the vans, allowing them to be started up and driven away under false licence plates.
Bielevicius, 25, of London Road South, Lowestoft, was involved in the thefts of seven vehicles, while 27-year-old Simanskas, also of London Road South, Lowestoft, assisted in the theft of five.
The over-arching operation was carried out in various locations across Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridge, between January 26 and September 6 2019 - though Bielevicius and Samanskas were only involved across a six-week period. These included incidents in Norwich and Lowestoft.
Having admitted their involvements in October and February respectively, the pair appeared at Norwich Crown Court on Thursday via video link from HMP Norwich for sentencing.
Judge Stephen Holt said: “This case involved the theft of and conspiracy to steal Mercedes Sprinter vans. It was organised crime and highly sophisticated.
“These vans are the backbone of lots of commercial activities, they are used by plumbers, by builders and by delivery drivers. This was not in any means a victimless crime.
“The overall value of the conspiracy is well in excess of £1m, although you were both only involved for around six weeks.”
Judge Holt added that the pair’s involvement was on the “low level of a very large scale operation”.
He added: “It is quite clear that some hard working men and woman were greatly affected by this conspiracy.
“One van had £15,000 worth of tools in the back of it, which will no doubt have caused them a huge inconvenience and a huge loss.”
Bielevicius was sentenced for 18 months in jail, while Samanskas was sentenced to 12 months.
Three other men who denied the charges, Almantas Ziura, 25, of London Road South, Lowestoft, Miroslav Pesko, 40, of Charlton, and Tadas Taraskevicius, 26 and of no fixed abode, are due to stand trial later this year.
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