An organised crime gang committed more than 200 burglaries, 100 of which were in Cambridgeshire, costing victims more than £2 million pounds, in an 11-month crime spree.
The gang raided homes and businesses across the region between February and December last year, 2017.
Often in broad daylight, three or four members would mask their faces using balaclavas and smash or force open doors or windows with tools found at the scene.
They would steal specific items, mainly high-powered BMWs and Audis, firearms, cash and jewellery, all of which they could dispose of through contacts.
Stolen vehicles were put on false plates and left in residential parking areas before being used to commit further crimes.
Most were raids on homes, although commercial premises and ATMs, were also targeted. Norfolk suffered a similar number of burglaries to Cambridgeshire while other offences took place in Suffolk, Essex and Bedfordshire.
Nine of the gang, mostly family members, close and distant, and from the Traveller community, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary.
The Gang members are:
Charlie Albert Webb, 20, from Newton Flotman, Norfolk.
John Eli Loveridge, 42, of Greenways, Carleton Rode, Norfolk.
John Stanley Loveridge, 23, of Greenways, Carleton Rode, Norfolk.
Joseph Holmes, 21, of Schole Road, Willingham.
Danny Stone-Parker, 28, of Braintree Road, Great Dunmow.
Timothy Stone-Parker, 24, of Clay Way, Ely.
Joe John Spencer Loveridge, 19, of Winchester Road, Sandy, Bedfordshire.
Richard Oakley, 27, of Sandy Park, Beck Row, Suffolk.
Johnny Oakley, 25, of Sandy Park, Beck Row, Suffolk.
A tenth man, Simon Oakley, 45, of Alburgh Road, Hempnall, Norwich, was found guilty of conspiracy to burgle yesterday, Wednesday October 31 following a trial at Norwich Crown Court.
Detective Inspector Craig Harrison, who led the investigation, said: “For members of this gang crime was just a way of life. In July last year they committed seven burglaries on one day and then eight the next and carried out about 50 for the whole month.
“Every one of those crimes had a victim so the trauma and devastation caused in quite a short space of time was immense. They clearly had no care at all for the impact their offending was having on communities, particularly in south and east Cambridgeshire, which were particularly badly hit, and, indeed, across the region.
“One victim had recently lost his wife and they stole her jewellery and a purse, which we have since recovered for him.
“Another victim had lost her husband and suffers from dementia. They stole her husband’s medals but we managed to recover those too.”
DI Harrison formed a team dedicated to the burglary series after police began linking offences in the East Cambs area in the spring of last year.
High performance vehicles were being stolen, had their identities changed and were then later used in further crimes. A valuable Audi RS Cabriolet was stolen and given a re-spray to make it look like an ordinary model and a £70,000 Audi S7 was stolen and then used in an attempted ATM robbery at the Co-op in Burwell in November last year.
More than one stolen vehicle would be used at any one time in conjunction with ‘clean’ or disposable vehicles.
Some vehicles were never found and were disposed of through garages, or ‘chop shop’ premises, including one in Algores Way Wisbech, where they were cut up for parts with a view to selling on or export.
The gang targeted homes in rural areas, where they could make easy getaways and stole high-performance vehicles to give themselves a better chance of out-running police.
In one incident on 20 July, one of the gang drove a stolen red Audi TTRS through a railway crossing at Lakenheath in a bid to get away from police and the driver of an oncoming train had to take emergency action to avoid a collision.
The vehicle was later recovered at Beck Row travellers’ site in Suffolk. In the car was booty from eight separate burglaries, a firearm and seven puppies, which had also been stolen in a burglary and were later returned to their owner.
The gang had committed eight burglaries that day and seven burglaries the day before (19 July) and it was estimated about 50 burglaries that month, all using the red Audi.
Firearms stolen in burglaries were either kept or moved on to other criminals: in February this year, a shotgun stolen in a burglary in Ten Mile Bank in February 2017 was recovered by police searching a property in Willesden, North West London.
Offences were committed across Cambridgeshire including Littleport, Wisbech, Fordham, Burwell, Prickwillow, Dullingham, Ely, Waterbeach, Soham, Abington, Cambridge, Chippenham, Little Shelford, Isleham, Sawston, Hardwick, Willingham, March, Histon, Swavesey, Longstanton, Little Downham, Stow cum Quay, Doddington, St Ives, Stretham, Chippenham, Balsham, Cottenham, Cheveley, Elsworth, Swaffham Bulbeck, Fulbourn, Newmarket, Teversham, Boxworth, Yaxley and Friday Bridge.7
The burglars will be sentenced at a later date, along with two other men - James Pateman, 55, of no fixed abode, and his brother, Thomas Brown, 54, of Fen Road, Chesterton, Cambridge - who were yesterday (31 October) found guilty of handling stolen goods following a trial at Norwich Crown Court. The court heard the men were involved in the disposal of jewellery between 12 March and 7 November, 2017,
Simon Oakley, who owns Stratton Quick Fit, a garage and workshop at Elite Business Park, in Salamanca Road, Norwich, had previously admitted possession of a firearm without a certificate and handling stolen goods.
He provided false registration plates and directed others to commit crime. He helped to hide stolen vehicles and pass them off as legitimate.
A brand new Volkswagen Golf R, which was stolen from St Ives in June last year, only two weeks after the owner had bought it, was recovered from Oakley’s home.
DI Harrison said: “This gang was single-handedly responsible for a crimewave in Cambridgeshire throughout most of last year and today they have been brought to justice.”