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9 June 2015, 13:05 | Updated: 9 June 2015, 13:07
An electrician from Rainham who admitted stealing over 100 sets of fog lights from cars across Kent has been jailed for over 3-years.
39-year-old Alexander John Cashford formerly of Moor Street was given a 3-year and 4-month prison sentence on Friday, 5 June at Maidstone Crown Court after pleading guilty to multiple counts of theft from vehicles across the county.
Thousands of pounds worth of vehicle parts was stolen from Mercedes, Vauxhalls, Audis, Citroens and Fords from October 2013. Kent Police identified over 160 victims of thefts in which fog lights and other vehicle parts were removed from the cars. It was thought that the vehicle parts were being sold on.
Cashford was charged with a string of theft offences in which the cost of the stolen car parts totalled over £63,000. It is thought he identified selling opportunities in newer vehicles such as the Mercedes C Class, where the LED running lights were costly to replace if bought directly from the dealers. Cashford set about carefully removing the lights from the cars and then used an internet auction site to sell on his stolen property.
In one instance Cashford actually sold a stolen vehicle badge back to its original owner. The Vauxhall Insignia badge was stolen from the car situated in a car park in Gravesend on 15 January 2014. Looking to find a replacement the owner searched an internet auction site and purchased another badge. It was later discovered that the seller was Cashford.
Detectives executed a search warrant at this home on 19 December 2014. They seized a large quantity of vehicle parts hidden behind a bath panel in the main bathroom. The items found by officers included car badges and fog lights from Vauxhall Insignia’s, Audi wheel centres, fog lights and LED running lights for Mercedes and Citroens and Ford fog lights. Officers then located more car parts in the garage. Further searches uncovered ‘proof of postage’ receipts for parcels and £6000 in cash hidden in a bedroom.
Cashford was arrested and charged a few days later. He appeared before Maidstone Crown Court on the 26 March 2015 and the 22 May 2015 where he admitted nearly 200 offences relating to vehicle theft, money laundering and making off without payment.
DC Michael Champion and DC Sarbjeet Khattoare investigated the crime spree. DC Sarbjeet Khattoare said: ‘Cashford can best be described as a one man crime wave who identified an illegal gap in the market to turn over a quick profit. With the introduction of led light technology into newer cars he recognised that people would be looking for cheaper alternatives when parts needed replacing. By stealing the lights he was able to make thousands whilst the victims of the crime often were left having to stump up the cash to find replacements. I am pleased we were able to put a stop to these crimes.’