A total of 24 vehicles worth £700,000, including Range Rovers, Audis and BMWs, have been discovered in Kampala following a joint investigation by the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) with the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Chief inspector Gordon Roberts, head of the NaVCIS, said the vehicles had been stolen from the UK by organised crime groups.
‘We are very grateful for the opportunity to once again work with our Ugandan police colleagues in co-operation with the NCA,’ he said.
‘It’s clearly not just Uganda which is being exploited in this way and we are determined to continue our work throughout those countries which are targeted by the thieves in order to tackle the issue, reducing the misery of organised vehicle crime.’
Thousands of keyless cars are being stolen in Britain each year by international gangs who reprogramme blank keys and simply drive off.
Police, manufacturers and insurance companies face an uphill battle against the criminals, but had a lucky break in this instance with a stolen Lexus.
The owner of the Japanese SUV had fitted it with a tracker and investigators traced it to Le Havre, in France, where it was shipped across the Med, through the Suez canal to Oman.
It was then shipped to Mombasa in Kenya before being transported by road to Kampala – where they drive on the right-hand side – in a steel container.
When they eventually reached the Lexus in Uganda, it was parked up with 23 other cars which had also been stolen from the UK.
The operation, which worked alongside Interpol, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) as well as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, will now return the vehicles to their rightful owners.
Several are now owned by insurance companies which have paid out claims to the original owners.