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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 June, 2004, 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK
'Car thieves caught out by iPod'
Apple Computer's iPod
The iPod can store all sorts of data
A gang of thieves that made 500,000 after tricking showrooms out of top of the range cars were caught out by an iPod, a jury was told.

They "hijacked" identities to drive off Jaguars, Mercedes, BMW's and Porsches, before selling them, the court heard.

Police found forged documents which were put on an iPod - usually used to store music - during a raid.

Tunde Benson, 26, of Plumstead, south-east London, denies conspiracy to defraud at Southwark Crown court.

The jury heard that seven others had earlier admitted involvement in the scam.

Suspicious Pc

Mark Fenhalls, prosecuting, said the gang came unstuck after a local beat officer became suspicious of the luxury cars parked outside a housing estate in Abbey Wood, south-east London.

Several weeks later members of the Vehicle Fraud Unit raided the place and found a mass of incriminating evidence stored on an iPod.

Mr Fenhalls told the jury: "In addition to storing music, you can store other kinds of data on an iPod.

"And in this case it was used to store templates for false documents, letters that could be forged, details of false identities and credit card numbers."

Pure profit

He said so much material had been downloaded from the iPod by police it had filled a Lever Arch file almost to capacity.

Mr Fenhalls told the court some of the "35-odd" cars had each been sold for up to 20,000 "pure profit".

The barrister explained that "having hijacked someone else's identity", certain gang members would turn up at showrooms armed with "mock-up" driving licenses and bogus bank statements and utility bills.

The iPod also held an array of forged letters to claim the vehicles were fully paid for, he claimed.

The case continues.

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