Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting WN NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Eight men jailed for conspiracy to burgle businesses including a number in Worcestershire
EIGHT men were jailed in connection with breaks-ins at nearly 40 commercial premises across the Midlands including many in Worcestershire.
The investigation by West Mercia Police followed burglaries at business premises, mainly golf clubs and garden centres, in which many thousands of pounds of cash and goods were stolen.
Terry Hodgkins, aged 36, of Whittall Drive East, Kidderminster, Jamie Worrall, aged 26 of Masons Close, Halesowen, Jordan Taylor, aged 22, of Beecher Road, Halesowen, Andrew Sadler, 26, from Dunlin Drive, Kidderminster were all sentenced at Hereford Crown Court on Monday.
Also sentenced were Michael Cope, 25, from Woodbury Road, Kidderminster, Neil Davis, 42, from Bewdley Road, Stourport, Mark Wilson, also 42, from Birchfield Road, Kidderminster, and Timothy Smith, 21, from Truro Drive, Kidderminster, all admitted conspiracy to burgle at various locations nationally between June 2011 and July 2012.
Taylor also admitted stealing two reels of telecommunications cable from Sherborne Homes Ltd at Kingswinford in August 2012.
Hodgkins, Sadler and Worrall were each given six-year terms, Smith was given three and-a-half years and Wilson received three years.
Davis was jailed for two years while Taylor was handed a 30-month term and Cope was given 18 months.
The men were arrested following an investigation led by West Mercia Police which was given the codename Operation Mask.
The gang would target premises and cut the phone lines to disable the connection to the alarm company.
This caused the alarm to sound but when a keyholder or security guard arrived it appeared everything was in order, and they would reset the alarm and leave, unaware the offenders were hiding nearby.
The gang would then break in, and although the alarms sounded, the alarm company was either not aware or simply thought there was a fault.
Wearing balaclavas and gloves, the gang damaged CCTV cameras or pointed them in the other direction while they carried out the burglaries.
They usually made straight for the safes.
Businesses targeted included those in Worcester, Evesham, Kidderminster, Bromsgrove, Ombersley and Tenbury.
They included Leading Labels in Evesham, from which clothing and cash worth more than £17,000 was stolen and Ombersley Golf Club where nothing was stolen but more than £20,000 worth of damage was caused.
BT also suffered substantial losses.
Detective Constable Phillipa Metcalfe of West Mercia Police said: “The operation was masterminded by Hodgkins and involved a group of experienced criminals.
"While it was a sophisticated operation, the defendants became greedy and overconfident, which ultimately led to their downfall.
“This was a long and complicated operation, involving a great deal of liaison between West Mercia Police and a number of different forces, and we hope the result will act as deterrent to other offenders, who wrongly think that commercial burglaries are victimless crimes, and that they are treated less seriously than domestic burglaries.”