HOMES in Worcestershire were targeted by burglars who stole more than a half a million pounds worth of luxury items during raids on the wealthy, including a professional footballer.

Thomas Mee, 42, Vincent Ball, 52 and John Barlow, 58, all from Liverpool, admitted conspiracy to burgle homes across the UK including in Worcestershire and that of Manchester City footballer Raheem Sterling, Chester Crown Court heard on Friday.

Jamiroquai singer Jay Kay's house in Buckinghamshire was among those targeted by the gang, as well as the homes of Bury FC chairman Steve Dale and Mansfield Town FC owner John Radford.

Simon Parry, prosecuting, called the three defendants 'a team of highly organised and sophisticated house burglars who have travelled to various parts of the UK'.

He said the three targeted the homes of "high-wealth individuals" and used sophisticated techniques such as cloned number plates and "dirty phones" to avoid detection.

The court heard the defendants attempted to burgle Sterling's home in Goostrey, Cheshire, on November 4, 2018.

Simon Parry, prosecuting, said: "Fortunately the alarm system at the address activated and scared the burglars away. Nothing was taken."

Ten days later, on November 14 2018, the three men checked into a hotel in Buckinghamshire and later Kay's home, Horsenden Manor, was targeted.

Mr Parry said the singer's housekeeper noticed an upstairs window was open and found a camera had been stolen.

A total of more than £550,000 of jewellery, watches and handbags was taken from 14 properties across Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire,

Buckinghamshire and Warwickshire between November 2018 and October 2019.

On October 5 last year the burglars were disturbed while in the Prestbury home of Mr Dale.

Watches worth between £300,000 and £500,000 were dropped by the intruders as Mr Dale's son gave chase and they left the property with only a £10 note.

They were later arrested and items including balaclavas, binoculars, crow bars and cloned number plates were found in a car used by the men.

Officers also found £125,000 in cash during a search of one of Mee's properties.

Recorder of Chester Judge Steven Everett branded Mee "ignorant and

selfish" for posting a letter to the home of one of his victims to express his remorse.

Judge Everett adjourned sentencing until Monday.