A number of luxury cars have been seized in eight British ports, in a sting operation involving the UK Border Force, the National Crime Agency and the ACPO Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service.

The cars, collectively thought to be worth around £1.2m, were about to be smuggled abroad after being stolen from their UK owners, or having been bought on finance – but only partially paid for.

Among the vehicles in the cache are Range Rovers, BMWs, Audis and a Porsche Cayenne. There was also an excavator and a Scania truck.

The 44 vehicles were discovered in containers ready for shipping overseas.

'Operation Toyer' took place in the ports of Hull, Immingham, Felixtowe, Grangemouth,London, Tilbury and Southampton.

Authorities think the luxury vehicles were being shipped to countries that include Malaysia, Myanmar and the USA.

The parts of 29 BMWs were also found in one container.

While car crime of this sort is understood to be falling, the authorities say they regularly discover small-scale shipments of this kind ready to leave UK ports.

Around 90,000 vehicles were stolen in the UK in 2013, many of these by organised crime groups. Luxury SUVs are most popular and are often stolen to order.

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