Gumtree taxi thief jailed

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By Laurice Laird

A thief who manipulated the popular website Gumtree has been sentenced to two years and four months for two counts of theft and robbery.

Chukwuka Iheke, 20, of Berry Lane, West Norwood was sentenced on Monday (July 15) at the inner London Crown Court.

The court was told that on April 5 Iheke attempted to steal a taxi in Brockwell Park Gardens. The driver fled the scene after being forced out of the vehicle by Iheke, who was unable to steal the car due to its keyless ignition. Accompanied by police officers, the taxi driver returned to the scene and discovered that money had been taken, and a mobile phone was found inside the vehicle. Police checks revealed this to belong to Iheke.

An investigation into the phone records showed it to have been involved in organising a meeting between a car seller and potential buyer on Gumtree at Penge East station on March 22. The seller’s vehicle, a black Dodge Calibre, was stolen at the meeting by the alleged buyer.

Less than a week later, the stolen car was used on March 28 during the theft of a laptop from a Gumtree seller who had arranged to meet a buyer. At the meeting on Hillside road, Streatham, Iheke took the laptop and escaped in the stolen vehicle.

Iheke was arrested on April 9 2013 after officers conducted an arrest warrant at his home address, where the black Dodge Calibre was found nearby. He was detained by police after trying to escape by jumping from a first floor window.

Luke Bielby, from Lambeth Police, said, “Iheke had been prolific in the space of a few weeks and this spree would have no doubt continued, had he not been apprehended. Lambeth borough Police will continue to target criminals to prevent the misery they cause to everyday members of the local community.”

Iheke pleaded guilty to the theft at an earlier hearing on April 24.

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