Car thieves who preyed on garage users jailed 

A pair of audacious car thieves are behind bars after we found them preying on drivers as they filled up or used other services at petrol stations.
We’ve released shocking CCTV footage showing crook William Lewis sneaking up on motorists at garages in Solihull and east Birmingham last year and jumping in the driver’s seat as their backs were turned.
Lewis is seen speeding off in cars as owners were inflating tyres and hoovering interiors – and on some occasions while petrol hose nozzles were still attached.
The 37-year-old worked alongside Nelson Herne, aged 42 from Roach Close in Solihull, to steal at least 16 vehicles with a combined value topping £150,000.

Lewis (left) and Herne
Lewis (left) and Herne

We identified the pattern of offences and after scouring many hours of CCTV spotted a red Renault Clio used by the pair to stalk petrol stations on the look-out for unsuspecting victims.
Detectives found the Clio was registered to a woman known to Herne and seized it during a raid on her address on 1 October.
A pair of boxing gloves were found in the boot that had been inside a Ford Kuga stolen on 23 July at an Esso garage in Station Road, Marston Green. We also found clothing at the address matching items used to commit the thefts.

WATCH: The audacious car thieves are caught on camera 

The Kuga owner also turned detective and found a man who she thought was responsible for stealing her car on Facebook… using the profile name Billiam Lewis. 
Other sites targeted by the thieves were Morrisons in Chester Road, Jet in Flaxley Road, Erdington, Sainsbury’s in Castle Vale Retail Park, and the BP station in Washwood Heath Road.
Detectives seized more CCTV footage showing 34-year-old Lewis’ partner Laura Lightwood and Michelle While, aged 39 from Gillscroft Road, Kitts Green, using bank cards taken from stolen vehicles at various shops.

Lightwood (left) and While
Lightwood (left) and While

Herne and Lewis, from Honeybourne Road, admitted conspiracy to steal vehicles between February and July 2020 and at Birmingham Crown Court today (24 Sept) they were jailed for 27 months and 30 months respectively.
Lightwood, also from Honeybourne Road, and While admitted fraud and handling stolen goods. Lightwood received an 18 month community order, including a rehabilitation course, but While failed to attend court and is now wanted.
Detective Sergeant Mick Clark who led the investigation at Solihull Force CID, said: “These were some of the most brazen car thefts I’ve seen in 14 years’ police service.
“Victims were caught completely off guard: you just don’t expect anyone to come sneaking across the garage forecourt in the middle of the day, jump in your car and drive away. You can see on the CCTV that victims look genuinely shocked.
“We identified the red Clio that Lewis and Herne were using. Herne would help identify targets and send Lewis, who’s a heavy drug user, across the road to commit the offence.
“They were causing a great deal of inconvenience and concern for motorists and I’m pleased that thanks to the hard work of our team they were caught and now in jail.
“And finally a big thank-you to the young woman who found Lewis on Facebook after her car was stolen. That was an important breakthrough and a good piece of detective work.”

Last updated

Join Us

Great news! We are recruiting, come and join us.

Find out how to join the force by visiting our dedicated jobs website.


Active Citizens

Active Citizens - Money available to help communites

Find out more about the Active Citizens Fund



Rate this page (1 star poor – 3 stars excellent).
Tell us about your experience on the website.
From time to time, we contact people to ask them about their experience on the website. If you’d like us to contact you, enter your name and/or your email address.
*Required field.