Three men behind a spate of keyless car thefts have been jailed for a total of more than seven years.
Alminas Satas, Maksims Seluks and Olgierd Golubovski were arrested and charged following an investigation by the Kent Crime Squad.
The trio were linked to the thefts of 29 vehicles from Ashford, Hawkinge, Tonbridge, Tenterden and Maidstone in October and November 2022.
They used an electronic device to capture the signals emitted by car keys and trick vehicles into thinking keys were present to steal them.
An investigation was launched after the first vehicles, a BMW and a Mercedes, were stolen in Ashford on 12 October 2022.
Detectives found the thieves were travelling down from east London in vehicles which had cloned number plates on them to avoid detection, and they would target BMWs, Mercedes and Range Rovers around Kent, which would then be driven back to various locations in Essex and London, where is it believed they were stripped down and sold for parts.
In the early hours of 8 December, officers in Kent established that a BMW seen on the M25 was travelling on cloned plates.
It was followed by officers in unmarked cars and brought to a stop after exiting the A249 near Sittingbourne. Occupants Satas and Seluks were arrested and a third man ran from the scene.
The vehicle was found to be registered under a false name at an address in Dagenham. Officers later attended the address and arrested Golubovski.
Evidence from his and the other men's phones linked them to the numerous thefts around the county over the preceding two months.
Satas, Seluks and Golubovski all later admitted conspiring to steal vehicles and were sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court on Monday 13 November 2023.
Satas, 26, of Bell Farm Avenue, Dagenham, was jailed for three years, four months; Golubovski, 24, of Rowdowns Road, Dagenham, was sentenced to two years, four months; and Seluks, 23, of Vincent Road, Dagenham, got two years and one month.
CCTV footage of keyless car theft near Maidstone.
Detective Constable Scott Drake, Kent Police's investigating officer, said: 'These three men were relentless in their targeting of cars to steal and quickly take out of the county.
'I would like to thank the local Neighbourhood Watch coordinators who worked tirelessly to obtain crucial CCTV footage and for the support of the local communities in providing important evidence in this case.
'I am pleased our meticulous investigation saw these men arrested and charged, and they are now no longer at liberty to steal people's property.'
The sentences come two weeks after two other men were jailed for a total of five years for similar offences.
Following the cases, drivers of cars with keyless entry systems are advised to take steps to ensure their vehicles are secure. Motorists should:
• Check if their entry fobs can be turned off overnight and store them away from any household entry points.
• Drivers can also store their fobs in special foil-lined bags, which can be bought from retailers, to prevent any unwanted communication between the vehicle and its keys.
• Make sure you don't leave your car keys visible from the outside of your home and park in a garage, secure car park or well-lit area covered by CCTV if possible.
• Consider having windows etched with the vehicle registration number or use an invisible ink marker pen to mark these details and your postcode on the underside frame of the vehicle.