A roving gang of thieves who targeted a string of work vans in Scarborough, Whitby and Bridlington have been jailed for a combined 10 years.
The “professional, criminal expedition” involved a gang of five from West Yorkshire who peeled open the sides of work vans before stealing powers tools from within, York Crown Court heard.
Up to 14 vehicles were targeted in Scarborough, Whitby and Bridlington, where thousands of pounds’ worth of power tools were stolen. It’s also believed the gang stole a motorcycle in Scarborough.
The five men - John Paul Connors, 29, Martin Connors, 29, William Connors, 33, Robert Adams, 29, and John Christopher Reilly, 50 - were arrested on their way back to West Yorkshire.
They were charged with conspiracy to steal between April 22 and 24 last year. They all ultimately admitted the offences and appeared for sentence on Thursday June 14.
The prosecution said the “professionally-organised” series of raids occurred in Whitby, Bempton, Bridlington and several locations in Scarborough including Southcliff and Osbourne Park, where three vans were attacked. A motorcycle was stolen on Scalby Road and there were other break-ins at Fylingdales.
The court heard that the gang, who had driven to the east coast in two vehicles, had managed to peel back the sides of a “significant number” of vehicles but over half of the raids were unsuccessful.
They had hoped to come away with at least £1,000 of gear from each of the 14 vehicles, but in the event they made off with a few thousand pounds’ worth of power tools.
Two of the thieves, Adams and Reilly, were currently serving prison sentences for burglary.
Defence counsel for Reilly, a “three-strike” burglar who had spent much of his adult life in prison, said he was paid £100 to be the gang’s driver but hadn’t made “a penny profit” because he was caught red-handed driving the van onto which the stolen goods had been loaded.
The defence claimed that the raids were “clumsy and unsophisticated” and in full view of “many witnesses”. They asked for reduced sentences because of the defendants’ family circumstances.
But Judge Andrew Stubbs QC branded the thieves a “professional group of travelling criminals who had plainly planned what they had intended to do”.
He told the defendants: “You knew the massive inconvenience you would cause to the people whose vans you targeted, not just in the loss of the tools of their trade, but the loss of trade and the opportunity to make money, and the time and inconvenience of replacing the tools and the repairs to the vehicles.”
Adams, of Orleans Street, Bradford, was jailed for 30 months, and Reilly, of no fixed address, was jailed for ten months. Both sentences were consecutive to the current jail sentences they were serving for burglary.
Martin Connors, of Cottingley Springs Caravan Site, Morley, near Leeds, was jailed for two years and three months.
John Paul Connors, of the same address, and William Connors, of Mary Street, Bradford, were both jailed for two years.