The leader of a gang that hacked into the onboard computers of luxury cars and bugged them with GPS tracking devices before stealing them is facing jail.
Alan Watkins, 42, created false identities for over 150 stolen cars worth up to £3.5m to sell them on in Cyprus. He particularly targeted models of BMWs, Audis and Range Rovers.
Watkins had details of over 500 vehicles and had all the required documentation to create false registrations for over 300 stolen luxury cars – a practice known as ‘ringing’.
Watkins would single out cars based on if similar models had been exported to Cyprus, and chose similar vehicles in car parks across Essex.
When the unsuspecting owners left their car, Watkins’ accomplicies would target the car with a signal blocker, preventing the remote controlled locking systems from working, Southwark Crown Court heard.
The thief would then enter the unlocked car, and hack into its computer system to access information about its key before installing a covert GPS tracking device.
The information from the computer on the was then passed onto Watkins, who created a copy of the key, so that thieves could steal the car, without causing any damage to it, at a later date.
The GPS tracking devices allowed the gang to work out the easiest time and place to steal the car.