The same cars were stolen by a gang of brazen thieves three times in a fortnight – twice from secure garages after police had recovered them from the earlier thefts. Other stolen cars were used to ramraid the compounds where the seized vehicles were being stored, and the hot wheels were then driven away before forensic tests could be done.
The gang stole vehicles and licence plates from car parks, people’s driveways, and streets around Swansea and Neath, and one of the stolen cars was even used to take a short break to a holiday park in Somerset.
Swansea Crown Court heard that when one of the thrice-stolen cars was recovered for the final time by police, the driver told officers “his mates would just steal it back again”.
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Megan Jones, prosecuting, said the month-long spree of auto crime started in the early hours of June 6, 2019, when a silver Ford Kuga car was stolen from outside a house in Bryncoch near Neath. There were no witnesses to this theft, and it seemed to have been done without the use of the vehicle’s key.
Then a week later a black VW Golf was stolen from near Olchfa School in Swansea – on this occasion the car owner’s house was burgled and the keys to the car taken; the thief or thieves then smashed a window on a Toyota Yaris which was parked in front of the Golf on the driveway, released the handbrake and pushed the Toyota out of the way, and then drove off in the VW. The court heard the day after the theft the Golf was driven to a holiday park in Somerset where it remanded for three days before being driven back to Kye Lewis’ house in Swansea. Around this time a set of number plates were also stolen from a Ford Kuga in Pontardawe.
The next car to be stolen was a black Ford Focus which was taken from the car park at Gower College Swansea’s Tycoch campus on June 18. A subsequent check of CCTV showed a silver Ford Kuga had been in the area at the time. Later that same day a PCSO on patrol in the Clase area of Swansea spotted a black Golf matching the description of the stolen car – though showing different number plates – outside a house. The sighting was radioed-in, and a short time later the same officer found the missing Focus under a tarpaulin in a rear lane. Both the stolen vehicles were seized by police and were sent to the secure Ken Williams recovery yard in Swansea to await forensic examinations.
Also on June 18 a white Ford Kuga was stolen – again without the use of keys – from outside a house in Alltwen near Pontardawe, while plates were stolen from vehicles in Swansea’s riverside Copper Quarter development.
But that was not to be the end of the gang’s activities that day. The prosecutor said just before 11.20pm that night a convoy of three stolen vehicles – including the two stolen Kugas – carried out a ramraid at the Ken Williams compound. The thieves re-stole the Golf and the Focus which police and earlier recovered and drove off in them, dumping the Kugas they had used in the raid. The re-stolen cars were seen just before midnight in the Ynysforgan area. The following day the cars – now with different plates – were spotted driving around in Ystalyfera, Onllwyn, Hirwaun, and in the Cynon Valley.
The court heard the cars were found again by police and taken to the BT Motors compound in Nelson, Carephilly, but on June 20 this garage was also ramraided, the Golf and Focus re-stolen for the second time.
A week later the Golf, now on false plates, was stopped by police, and the driver Marcus Bounds was arrested. The prosecutor said Bounds did not appear worried, and told the officers “his mates would just steal it back again”. The Golf was forensically examined, and Lewis and co-defendant Matthew Ace were subsequently arrested.
Lewis and Ace gave “no comment” interviews, while Bounds said he had no knowledge of any burglary or theft, and had purchased the Golf from a person in the car park of the Tesco supermarket in Llansamlet – though he declined to give any further details.
Marcus Bounds, aged 31, of Lloyd Road, Treboeth, Swansea, had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal cars when he appeared in the dock for sentencing. He has 15 previous convictions for 33 offences including vehicle-taking, aggravated vehicle-taking, and 11 thefts. In September 2019 he was sentenced to 30 months in prison for offending which saw him stealing a Golf GTI from a house in Neath, fitting it with plates he had stolen from a car showroom, and then leading police on a 100mph chase along the M4 before crashing and running away
Matthew Ace, aged 34, of Banwell Street, Morriston, Swansea, had also previously pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods when he appeared alongside his co-accused. He has 37 previous convictions for 133 including vehicle-taking, aggravated vehicle-taking, and theft. In 2019 he was sentenced to two years in prison for attacking a friend with a golf club in front of a young child and threatened to burn down the homes of relatives after falling out over the sale of a pick-up truck. Ace had also previously pleaded guilty to theft, dangerous driving, failing to stop for an officer, driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence and driving with no insurance. These offences relate to the theft of a Ford Fiesta from the car park of Swansea’s Parc Tawe retail park on November 4 last year and a police chase the following day which had seen an “overweight male in a grey top” race at speeds touching 70mph through Llansamlet, Bonymaen, Swansea enterprise zone, and the lower Swansea Valley. The car – which had false plates – was eventually dumped in Cwmrhydyceirw and three males ran away. The police helicopter which had been involved in the tracking the 15-mile long pursuit followed the driver as he made off on foot, and he was found by ground units hiding in the doorway of a house.
Kye Nathan Lewis, aged 39, of Lon Claerwen, Clase, Swansea, had previously pleaded guilty handling stolen goods when he appeared in the dock. He has nine previous convictions for 24 offences including aggravated vehicle taking, going equipped to steal, theft of a vehicle, handling stolen goods, and being concerned in the supply of cocaine – this last offence had seen the dad-of-three operating a phone line for a London-based organised crime group, or OCG, and saw him sentenced to 40 months in prison in June last year. Lewis had also previously pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine and heroin with intent to supply, and to the simple possession of ecstasy. These offences were committed in December 2020, and came to light when a police officer stopped a speeding Audi A3 car near Swansea’s Liberty Stadium. The court heard Lewis’ eyes were glazed and his speech was slurred, though he passed a roadside breath test. In the boot of the car were bolt cutters and other tools, and he was initially arrested on suspicion of going equipped. However, when the car was searched officers found bags of white powder hidden behind the removable stereo speaker in the driver’s door. A subsequent search of Lewis’ house uncovered an electronic device for unlocking cars, and further quantities of white power in Kinder Eggs.
The court heard Ace and Lewis had originally also been charged with conspiracy to steal alongside Bounds, but that this charge was subsequently dropped and guilty pleas to handling stolen goods were accepted.
Dan Griffiths, for Bounds, said his client’s life had spiralled downwards after developing a significant cocaine addiction, and the defendant accepted that at the time of the offending his behaviour had been “brazen in the extreme” and that “he had little regard for others”. He said the custodial sentence handed down to Bounds in September 2019 had been a “wake-up call” for the dad-of-four, who had been making good progress since being from prison and now wanted to be responsible parent.
Helen Randall, for Ace, pointed to the delay in the case coming to court, said her client had served two custodial sentences in the three years since the offending he now fell to be sentenced for.
Steve Burnell, for Lewis, also highlighted the age of the offending before the court.
With a one-third discount for his guilty plea to conspiracy to steal Bounds was sentenced to 16 months in prison suspended for 18 months, and was ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and a rehabilitation course. With a one third discount for his guilty pleas Ace was sentenced to a total of 34 months in prison comprising 16 months for handling stolen goods and 18 months for the dangerous driving and theft offences to run concurrently. He was also banned from driving for three years. With a one-third discount for his guilty pleas Lewis was sentenced to a total of 54 months in prison comprising 12 months for handling stolen goods and three-and-a-half years for the drug supply offences to run consecutively. Ace and Lewis will serve up to half their sentences in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.
The identity of the other car thieves involved in the conspiracy to steal remains unknown.
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