The court proceedings against a British organized crime operation known as OCG Square, whose members are accused of stealing over $5 million worth of goods over two years and 22 separate heists has begun in Northampton, the Northhamptonshire Telegraph reported Tuesday.
The gang’s alleged crime spree ran from April 2019 through September 2021 and, though the majority of the thefts were in Corby, North Northamptonshire, OCG Square is accused of stealing “high value” goods, including works of art, Range Rovers, luxury clothes, solar panels, and hundreds of thousands of face masks and antiseptic wipes businesses across the UK.
According to the prosecutor, Dharmendra Toor, the group gained confidence after every robbery. “Be it arrogance, perhaps,” he said to the jury, “but they became determined to continue because they were onto a good thing and thought they’d never get caught.”
Prosecutors say one of their earliest jobs dates back to April 2019, when the crew allegedly smashed a window at the historic Nevill Holt Hall in Leicestershire, entered the premises, and stole a group of paintings.
According to the Telegraph the works include two paintings by the British artist Sir Howard Hodgkin, a Gilbert & George photo, a 1961 work by Sir Peter Blake, and piece called Custom Painting No 6 by Peter Philips. Prosecutors say they found the images of the stolen works on a mobile phone that belongs to one of the accused men, Adel Chouhaib, who prosecutors called the “mastermind” of the plot, and texts from an unidentified man who claimed to have found a buyer for the works.
In large part, the robberies were committed during lockdowns imposed during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving many businesses vulnerable to attack at a time when the country was highly dependent on online shopping. OCG Square allegedly targeted businesses that dealt specifically in goods that were valuable during the pandemic.
Prosecutors accuse the men of allegedly stealing two trailers of PPE, including 319,000 facemasks owned by a Corby-based healthcare agency and destined for the National Health Service. Then, over three days in December 2021, the prosecutors said, OCG allegedly hijacked an Amazon trailer packed with food near Glenfield in Leicester, and 26 pallets of Amazon stock was taken from a site near Wincanton in Corby.
Police say they’ve seized money, phones, stolen goods and drugs from 12 properties linked to the suspects and had found “significant volumes of cash going through their bank accounts.” The four men claim to be innocent.