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Tuesday, 3 September, 2002, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Gang stole 25,000 mobile phones
The imported mobiles were stored near Heathrow Airport
A gang stole more than 25,000 mobile phones in a raid on an warehouse near Heathrow Airport, a court has heard.

They bypassed security devices and dismantled a closed circuit television system at the building in Hayes, Middlesex, Isleworth Crown Court was told on Tuesday.

The "state of the art" imported Samsung A300 mobiles worth 4m were loaded into a waiting vehicle.

A couple of workers only discovered the break-in 12 hours later when they arrived to open up.

Widespread publicity

The warehouse was used to store Samsung telephones imported into Britain through nearby Heathrow Airport.

Martin Hicks, prosecuting, claimed that as police launched an investigation, one of those involved tried to find a buyer for the stolen goods.

But the deal was ruined due to the widespread publicity that the case had attracted.

Four men arrested during the police swoop deny conspiring "with others unknown" to commit burglary on or before February 10 this year.

They are Gorbakhash Chopra, 34, Mandip Sehra, 26, and Bhapinder Sandhu, 35, all from Southall, Middlesex, and Sandhu's cousin, Surinder Tura, also 35, from Walsall, West Midlands.

'Marketing disaster'

They have also pleaded not guilty to two alternative charges of handling stolen goods.

Mr Chopra alone denies a fourth alternative count claiming he handled a stolen flat-screen monitor taken during the raid.

Detectives tracked several thousand phones to a trading estate a few miles away, but the rest have never been recovered.

Apart from causing "considerable" financial loss to their Korean-based owners, the raid "triggered a marketing disaster of mammoth proportions", said counsel.

Mr Hicks told the west London court that the "overwhelming inference" was that the raid had been "well planned and well executed, and carried out for high commercial reward by a well-informed, well-connected and determined gang".

He added that the "close-knit" group was probably based locally and knew when to strike, "what to take, how to move it, where to conceal it and where to try and sell it".

The trial continues.


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