EIGHT men jailed in connection with breaks-ins at nearly 40 commercial premises across the Midlands targeted a number in Worcestershire.

Police said the gang became “greedy and overconfident” after targeting mainly golf clubs and garden centres, stealing many thousands of pounds of cash and goods, ultimately leading to their capture.

They would target premises and cut the phone lines to disable the connection to the alarm company.

It 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, usually making straight for the safes.

Detective Constable Phillipa Metcalfe, of West Mercia Police, said: “The operation was masterminded by Terry 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.”

The group hit businesses across the region, including in Kidderminster, Bromsgrove, Clent, Ombersley, Worcester, Evesham and Tenbury. At Leading Labels in Evesham, they stole clothing and cash worth more than £17,000 and although nothing was taken from Ombersley Golf Club they caused £20,000 worth of damage.

BT also suffered substantial losses.

Terry Hodgkins, aged 36, of Whittall Drive East, Kidderminster; Jamie Worrall, 26, of Masons Close, Halesowen; Jordan Taylor, 22, of Beecher Road, Halesowen, and Andrew Sadler, 26, of Dunlin Drive, Kidderminster were sentenced at Hereford Crown Court on Monday.

Also sentenced were Michael Cope, 25, of Woodbury Road, Kidderminster; Neil Davis, 42, of Bewdley Road, Stourport; Mark Wilson, also 42, of Birchfield Road, Kidderminster; and Timothy Smith, 21, of 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 at Kingswinford, West Midlands, in August 2012.

Hodgkins, Sadler and Worrall were each given six-year terms, Smith was given three-and-a-half years and Wilson three years. Davis was jailed for two years while Taylor was handed a 30-month term and Cope was given 18 months.

DC Metcalfe added: “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.”