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Two in court accused of exporting stolen plant

News

TWO BEDFORDSHIRE men shipped millions of pounds-worth of stolen backhoes and mini excavators from all over the UK to associates in Israel, St Albans Crown Court was told this week.

The men are alleged to have hoodwinked freight companies into shipping the plant by reversing the last two digits on the machines'documentation to avoid a match with stolen items on the Police National Computer.

The connection was made when a specialist investigator at plant trackers TER trawled through descriptions of stolen items on its own database.

Michael Komaroni and Gary Garrard are charged separately with conspiring to handle machines worth £700,000 and £400,000 respectively through sites in Halton, Buckinghamshire, and Eaton Bray, Bedfordshire. They pleaded not guilty.

Mr Garrard told police the machines, mostly JCB 3Xs, were often delivered by two Irishmen, who would be paid an average of £7,000 an item. He was paid £1,000 for delivering the item to Israel by an Israeli associate, who is being charged in his home country.

Philip Matthews, prosecuting, said: 'The amount paid was considerably under value, bearing in mind the average replacement value of the JCBs is £23,000.'

The case is the culmination of a two-month surveillance operation codenamed Eclipse, which involved monitoring 'delivery of machines to Israel via Felixstowe.

The case continues.