A ‘professional handler’ of stolen goods from Rugby has been jailed for 37 months

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Within days of being given a suspended prison sentence a professional handler of stolen goods had received parts from a treasured car and was selling them on ebay.

But Martin Crouch was caught after the car owner spotted easily-identifiable parts from his prized Mark 1 VW Golf.

And at Warwick Crown Court Crouch was jailed for a total of 37 months.

Crouch, 41, of Anderson Avenue, Rugby, had pleaded guilty to four charges of receiving stolen goods, possessing amphetamine and breaching a suspended sentence.

Prosecutor John Hallissey said that on June 6 last year Crouch had been sentenced to six months in prison suspended for 12 months and ordered to do 90 hours of unpaid work.

Late the previous month a lock-up garage rented by the car owner was broken into, and his treasured Mark 1 Golf, on which he had lavished a great deal of attention, was stolen.

When he discovered it was missing, he checked nearby garages, and in one of them he found the car which had been stripped down to its bare shell.

Mr Griffiths reported the theft, but also carried out his own investigation by checking out the ebay auction site where he saw photographs of parts from his car being offered for sale.

He made a comprehensive list of the parts, many of which were easily recognisable, being offered for sale, and passed it on to the police.

That led to Crouch’s arrest, and at his home, as well as many of the stolen parts, officers found 41.3 grams of amphetamine which Crouch said was for his own use.

The court heard that among the parts sold by Crouch on ebay were the car’s leather seats, steering wheel and customised gear knob.

Other parts he was offering for sale or had received included the completer instrument panel, the parcel shelf, the headlights, radiator grille, bumpers, carpets, fuel pump, wiper water bottles, and even the rear view mirror.

Mr Hallissey added that of the unpaid work Crouch had been ordered to do, he has completed just one hour when he attended an induction session.

Crouch was jailed for 27 months for receiving the Golf parts, with a consecutive four-month sentence for possessing the amphetamine – and the six-month suspended sentence was also activated, again consecutively.

Judge Alan Parker said: “Your breach is represented by your complete failure to comply with the requirements of the order. Had the judge known you were going to treat the order with contempt, he would have sent you to prison immediately.

“Some time in May, while you were on bail, someone targeted the Golf, which was in absolutely pristine condition. He had spent a great deal of time and money on it, and he cherished it.

“It was carefully planned, and the car was completely stripped; and the thieves turned to you to get rid of the property in the sure knowledge that you would provide a safe disposal of the goods.

“You are a professional handler of stolen goods. You were highly organised and sophisticated, masquerading on ebay as an honest man. Your role was central.”

The judge also observed that the profitability of Crouch’s role was illustrated by his ability to buy amphetamine in bulk for his own use.