Police blocked the export of £1.2 million worth of stolen cars in a nationwide operation that took in ships leaving Grangemouth docks.
Officers from the National Crime Agency, ACPO Vehicle Intelligence Service and Border Force targeted containers and trailer traffic at ports across the UK, including Grangemouth, throughout September.
Top of the range BMWs, Range Rovers, Audis, Porsches, Scania trucks and a Komatsau excavator were among the 44 vehicles recovered during the month-long operation. In addition to recovering vehicles, officers also discovered a container filled with parts from at least 29 BMWs.
The vehicles were destined for the continent of Africa, Cyprus, France, Malaysia, Burma and the USA.
Detective Chief Inspector Gordon Roberts, head of the vehicle crime unit, said: “Our officers are recovering stolen vehicles on a daily basis, to the value of millions of pounds every year.
“They are fully qualified vehicle examiners who use their skills and experience to develop intelligence, to locate stolen vehicles, assist in the disruption of organised crime and reduce the opportunities for criminals to export their ill-gotten gains.
“These successes are due to the professionalism of the police officers working in collaboration with our policing colleagues, law enforcement partners and directly with ports and export industries.”
Tom Dowdall, Border Policing Command deputy director, said: “Exporting and selling stolen vehicles on the black market is a lucrative business for organised crime groups as they avoid tax or import duties.
“Some groups even pay for drug shipments with cars.”
Last year 90,000 vehicles were stolen in the UK and many of these were exported by crime groups, who normally steal vehicles to order, with 4X4s being popular in some countries because of their prestige and the local terrain.
It is relatively cheap to send a container of “personal goods” and sometimes the cars are hidden beneath items like furniture and electrical equipment.