Three men have been jailed for a total of 25 years for their roles in stealing cars, cash and jewellery worth more than half a million pounds.
The gang, who travelled between targets in a taxi belonging to one of the men, carried out burglaries in Lancashire and North Wales stealing high performance cars totalling approximately £250,000.
During sentencing, further thefts, which pre-dated our investigation, were also taken into consideration, bringing the total value of goods stolen by one of the gang members to more than £500,000.
Following a trial at Preston Crown Court taxi driver Shujun Miah, 34, of Rawsthorne Avenue Blackburn, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to commit theft of motor vehicles. He was sentenced to eight years.
Michael Gallagher, 32, of Falkland Street, Liverpool was also found guilty of the same offences and sentenced to eight years.
Daniel Deens, 32, of Roughwood Drive, Liverpool pleaded guilty to the same offences and was sentenced to nine years and four months after admitting to further offences which were taken into consideration by the judge when handing out his sentence.
The court heard how Miah used his private hire taxi to transport the trio around the North West over a four-week period in February and March 2019 mainly targeting properties with high-performance cars parked outside.
A total of nine cars including Audis and VW Golfs, were stolen from across the region which included addresses in Darwen, Wilpshire, Chorley, Preston, Leyland and Walton-le-Dale as well as a number in North Wales.
Several other cars and properties were targeted during the period, including two in one night, but were unsuccessful after the gang were disturbed by burglar alarms.
The gang used specialised equipment to snap locks and gain entry to the addresses in order to steal car keys as well as using a technique known as “fishing” to hook keys through letterboxes. Registration plates were then doctored on the stolen vehicles in an attempt to avoid detection.
Officers investigating the burglaries, codenamed Operation Speed, analysed telephone records, CCTV and ANPR data to track the group’s movements and link all of the offences.
During the investigation parts from a number of the stolen cars were discovered at chop shops in Nelson and Merseyside. Several of the stolen cars have never been recovered.
High value jewellery and sums of cash were also reported stolen during the burglaries.
Shortly after midnight on March 15th 2019 officers from the Tactical Operation Unit stopped a taxi driven by Miah and arrested him along with Gallagher at the scene. Deens, who is thought to have made off from the taxi, was subsequently arrested in Merseyside following a country wide appeal for his arrest.
PC Sam Patel of Preston Police Target Team who led the investigation said: “We welcome today’s sentences which reflect the impact of this pre-medicated crime spree where the defendants have conspired together causing misery and anxiety for all the victims of this case.
“This gang have broken into people’s homes during the night, at a time when victims are asleep in bed and vulnerable, often with children in the house.
Many of the high value motor vehicles stolen have never been recovered resulting in huge financial losses.
“This case was the result of a long running investigation over a number of months and I hope this result sends out the clear message that Lancashire is not an easy target for those who would seek to take advantage.
We will find you and we will ensure that you answer for your actions before the courts.”