‘Lie after lie after lie’: tech wizard behind £1m Mercedes van theft gang jailed

A photo of the Mercedes Sprinter van, which was stolen from Notley Road in Kirkley, Lowestoft. Pictu

A photo of the Mercedes Sprinter van, which was stolen from Notley Road in Kirkley, Lowestoft. Picture: Suffolk Police - Credit: Archant

An “arrogant” man has been convicted of being the technical brains behind a crime gang that stole more than £1m-worth of Mercedes vans.

A network of thieves scoured the East of England to find and steal a host of Mercedes Sprinter vans which all had their electronic ignition switches (EIS) removed.

Norwich Crown Court heard the switches were taken to Miroslav Pesko, who had the knowledge and equipment to read the data and reprogramme it - enabling the gang to put the updated switches in the vans and steal the vehicles without being tracked.

Pesko, 41, had gone on trial having pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to steal between January 1 2017 and September 6 2019.

But on Thursday (November 5) a jury of eight men and four women found the defendant guilty by a majority of 10 to two after almost three-and-a-half hours of deliberations.

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Pesko, who shook his head as the guilty verdict was announced, was jailed for a total of five years and four months by Judge Stephen Holt, who said the he had found to be part of a “serious organised crime operation”.

Judge Holt said during the two-week trial, Pesko had come across to him as an “arrogant man” who “told lie after lie after lie”.

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The court heard that at least 35 vans were stolen as part of the operation which was smashed by police who had kept the gang under surveillance for six months.

Although there were no statements from those who had lost vehicles during the operation Judge Holt, who commended the police for their work during the complex investigation, said it was not a victimless crime for those who woke in the morning to “find their vans were gone”.

Simon Molyneux, for Pesko, said he had no previous convictions, adding that there were “clearly others involved in this”. Pesko, from Middlesex, is the latest person to be jailed as part of the conspiracy.

In May, Ignas Bielevicius, 25, and Dzanetas Simanskas, 27, both of London Road South, Lowestoft, admitted their involvement and were jailed for 18 months and one year respectively.

Others involved in the conspiracy, including Almantas Ziura, 25, of London Road South, Lowestoft, have also admitted their involvement and are due to be sentenced next week.

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