Leicestershire Police sell off criminal's Nazi replica armoured car
This Second World War replica armoured car is the latest – and most unusual – criminal asset to be auctioned off by Leicestershire Police.
The force sold the two-and-a-half tonne Nazi "Helga" for £5,205 on its online eBay shop. It is believed to have been used in Second World War re-enactment events.
It is the latest "criminal asset" to be sold through the force's auction site.
The site has generated about £684,000 through the sale of luxury cars, designer clothing, jewellery and other ill-gotten gains since it was launched three years ago.
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The cash is used to fund further crime-fighting, while some is donated to good causes.
Leicestershire Police was guarded about how the Helga – believed to have been built and sold by a specialist welder in the South East several years ago – came to be on its site.
The force would only reveal it was selling it on behalf of another law enforcement agency. The handcrafted vehicle, sold on Friday night after a seven-day auction, was confiscated by a court after an investigation into its owner's background.
The seizure was made under the Proceeds of Crime Act, which allows police and other law enforcement bodies to seize goods and assets which courts conclude were paid for with criminal cash.
Detective Superintendent Matt Hewson said: "We have sold everything from luxury sports cars to toy ones, from designer clothes to skateboards.
"This replica armoured car is one of the most unusual things we have had.
"It shows the breadth of assets we can take from criminals.
"If you are living a criminal lifestyle, as well as facing prosecution, we will ask the courts to take from you money, property and other goods."
The force's ongoing campaign – Too Much Bling? Give Us a Ring – encourages the public to pass on details of people believed to be living the high life on the back of crime.
Det Supt Hewson said: "They may be living on the proceeds of burglary, money-laundering, fraud or drug dealing.
"We can take both civil and criminal action to be sure they do not benefit from these activities."
In the three years since it opened its eBay shop, the force has sold more than 1,000 items.
Bidding on a two-year-old Aston Martin DB9 Volante convertible was due to end last night. With more than a dozen bids lodged, it was set to fetch more than £55,000.
Zuffar Haq, of Crimestoppers in Leicestershire, said: "I knew the police had sold up-market cars, but I had no idea they were selling armoured cars.
"I wonder what they're going to get next – criminals will spend their money on many strange things. There is a very serious point to this and that is that there are people who enjoy good lifestyles because they are committing crime.
"If people believe they know someone who is benefiting from crime I'd urge them to call Crimestoppers in complete anonymity or go to the police."
Call Leicestershire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, which is anonymous, on 0800 555 111.