Prosecutors at Reading Crown Court have heard how a gang used 'key cloning' technology and sophisticated tracker devices to steal luxury cars parked in airport car parks.
The high-tech criminals allegedly gained access to Luton Airport's 'Stress-Free' car park via an unidentified valet insider, where they would subsequently 'clone' contactless keys with sophisticated computer software and install a small tracker device.
The gang could then trace the luxury vehicles – which included Range Rovers, Bentleys and a McLaren – and steal them without detection at a later date.
The gang netted cars worth between £50,000 pounds and £70,000 pounds but their haul also included vehicles worth 'considerably' more.
According to The Telegraph, Neil Moore, opening the case, told the jury: "Essentially those involved found a way to make another key to the car, unbeknown to the owner, which enabled them to drive away in the car at any time they wanted to, without any damage or any alarms to sound."
The organised crime gang led by "main man" Khalid Mahmood, also targeted hire cars and focussed on vehicles brought to alleged accomplice Andrew Murray's bodyshop for repairs.
A further scam saw minor damage inflicted on desirable vehicles and then a recommended repairer was suggested, who made a cloned copy of the vehicle's key, the jury was told.
The group was only caught out when police carried out a covert operation using a 'Trojan' car to ensnare the criminals, the court heard.
A female officer brought a deliberately damaged Range Rover to Andrew Murray's BHP bodyshop that was fitted with covert recording devices. According to the prosecution, the car was missing parts of the recording equipment when it was returned and one of the keys to the vehicle no longer worked.
According to The Telegraph, the prosecutor said: "The prosecution's explanation is whilst at Mr Murray's place, a third key had been made ready for it to be stolen later.
"However, almost certainly when the tracking device was being fitted the covert device fitted by the police, or part of it, was found.
"Realising at that stage that it was a Trojan car sent to spy on them, the conspirators removed the police recording equipment.
"Unfortunately for them recordings were still being monitored and retained." said.
The court also heard how Mahmood's lover, Cathrine Clausen, is charged with encouraging or assisting the offender as a laptop found on her person during a search at Heathrow Airport hosted materials that demonstrated she was part of the car theft operation.
Alleged accomplices Ghulan Butt, aged 27 years, of Maple Crescent, Slough, Berks, Amran Iqbal, aged 38 years, of Derby Road, Beeston, Notts., Irfan Rehman, aged 40 years, of Belmont Road, Luton, Beds., Murray, aged 50 years, of Bannard Road, Maidenhead, Berks. and Clausen, aged 27 years, of Howards Gate, Farnham Royal, Bucks., deny all the charges against them.
The trial continues.