Three car thieves have admitted stealing scores of vehicles in a year-long crimewave.
The serial offenders targeted high-end Ford cars and Ford vans in a stealing spree across Renfrewshire and the West of Scotland.
At Paisley Sheriff Court, William Cairns, Mark Busby and Robert Busby faced 125 charges totaling thefts valuing almost £1million with the trio admitting to 67 thefts of vehicles worth more than £342,000.
The total is thought to be much higher as some owners didn’t provide values for their vehicles.
Court papers show each of the charges were connected to serious organized crime.
In many of the thefts, the vehicles were taken from outside the homes of the owners as the country was in lockdown in 2020.
Prosecutor David McDonald told the court the three males were involved in the “repeated theft” of Ford vehicles, predominantly Transit Vans, and car models including, Kuga, Fiesta and Focus, usually the higher value RS and ST models.
Mr McDonald explained it wasn’t known exactly how the vehicles were broken into but due to the recovery of some items, its is thought electronic decoders and frequency relying equipment were used to disable locks and alarms.
Mr McDonald explained to the court of over 50 instances when each of the gang members, or on some occasions, all three males were involved in thefts in Renfrewshire, Ayrshire, Glasgow and Lanarkshire.
Mark Busby, 38, admitted stealing a Ford Transit motorhome valued at approximately £32,000 from Mains Drive in Erskine in January 2020.
Mr McDonald told: “The owner of the vehicle parked and secured the vehicle outside his home.
“He was asleep at the time and unaware of the incident. He had possession of both keys for the vehicle and confirmed there was no tracker fitted.
“At about 1.50am on January 6, 2020, occupants of a neighboring property saw three males making attempts to steal their neighbour’s motorhome.
“The witnesses saw the males wearing dark clothing, loitering next to the motorhome, and then jog across the road and enter a silver car which was parked at the entrance to the medical center.
“They saw the hazard lights of the motorhome flash, however no alarm sounded. They saw the headlights quickly turn on and thereafter the motorhome was driven away.
“The witness saw the silver car follow the motorhome as it was driven away and police were contacted.
“The vehicle was not recovered.”
Don’t miss the latest headlines from around Renfrewshire. Sign up to our newsletters here.
Cairns, 36, admitted stealing a white Ford Focus RS worth approximately £30,000 from a property in Renfrew’s Craigielea Road on May, 21, 2020.
Mr McDonald told the court this vehicle was recovered but damaged, he explained: “Around 1am on May 21, the owner of the vehicle parked, locked and secured his vehicle.
“The owner has security in place for this car via an app on his mobile phone which requires his phone to be present within a certain radius or the engine will stop.
“Around 3.30am, the owner of the vehicle was awoken by a neighbor.
“The neighbor stated his vehicle was further down the street on the roadway. The owner attended and observed the driver’s door lock to be removed.
“As he was in possession of his mobile phone, the vehicle had gone out of the security radius and the engine had stopped.
“The owner drove the vehicle back to where it was originally parked and police were contacted.
“The value of the vehicle was approximately £30,000, it was recovered but with damage to the door and to the ignition barrel.”
Mark and Robert Busby, 39, and Cairns all admitted stealing a white Ford Transit van from Steepie Street in Kilbarchan on June 3, 2020.
David McDonald explained the owner of this vehicle hadn’t provided a value but it was never recovered.
Mr McDonald explained: “Around 1.30pm on June 2, the owner of the vehicle parked and secured his Ford Transit.
“About 7am on June 3, the owner was leaving his home address to go to work and observed his vehicle to be missing.
“He was still in possession of both keys and did not observe any broken glass or items lying untoward on the roadway.
“The van owner spoke with his neighbor who stated he had looked out his window around 2am and saw the vehicle was still outside and police were contacted.”
Other vehicles both Busbys admitted stealing included a £6000 silver Ford Transit from Woodside Avenue in Bridge of Weir on April 7, 2020.
Court heard how Mark Busby also stole a Ford Transit worth approximately £6000, from Ben More Drive in Paisley on April 13. 2020.
And Cairns also admitted stealing a white Ford S-Max worth £14,520 on May 12, 2020 from Glenarklet Drive in Paisley.
Each of the males defense agents reserved mitigation for the preparation of reports.
Sheriff Tom McCartney adjourned sentencing for the preparation of a criminal justice social work report and a restriction of liberty order assessment.
All three males were remanded and will return to court next month for sentencing.
Download the FREE Renfrewshire Live app now for all the latest news, features and sport: smarturl.it/RenfrewLiveSocial