Three burglars who were involved in ‘serious commercial crime’ were caught as they were about to make off with £66,000 worth of power tools from a Rugby builders’ merchants.
The break-in at the Travis Perkins premises was the third raid the team had carried out on the same day, loading their haul into a stolen van, a judge has heard.
The three men, one of whom had to be Tasered as he tried to drive off, all pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to all three of the burglaries.
Terence Maughan (27) of Bestwood Road, Nottingham, and Douglas Ward (30) of no fixed address, were both jailed for two years, but Martin Ward (34) of Slapton Road, Little Billington, Leighton Buzzard, was given a shorter 20-month sentence.
Prosecutor Mohammed Hafeez said ‘a significant degree of planning and organisation’ had gone into the burglaries on Sunday March 21, which all involved the use of the van on cloned plates.
The first took pace at Nuneaton Self Storage in Slingsby Close, Attleborough, at around 5.10pm when the main gate was forced open after a circular saw had been used to cut the lock.
One of the containers at the site was entered and a tool box with tools in it was taken.
The trio then struck at the T W Wholesale tool supply company in Cadley Road, Swadlincote, where they forced a security gate and escaped with just over £8,000 worth of power tools.
They then moved on to Rugby where they broke into the Travis Perkins builders’ merchants premises in Somers Road and began stealing tens of thousands of pounds worth of power tools.
But, unknown to them, an alarm had been set off by a remote CCTV monitoring system, alerting the police, who arrived while they were still loading their haul into the van.
Martin Ward got out of the van, which had been stolen in Surrey in February, and tried to make a run for it, but was caught and arrested, as was Douglas Ward.
Maughan meanwhile jumped into the driver’s seat and tried to drive away, and had to be Tasered before being arrested.
In the back of the van, the officers found power tools worth £66,960 which had been taken from Travis Perkins, together with the tools from T W Wholesale and the toolbox.
Mr Hafeez added that Douglas Ward had 68 offences on his record, including 22 for ‘theft and related matters’ and a firearm offence for which he was given five years and four months in 2011.
Maughan had ‘a record not dissimilar, beginning in 2005,’ including burglaries, and was subject to a community order at the time, but Martin Ward was of previous good character.
Felicity Campbell, for Douglas Ward, argued: “I accept there was clearly planning, but while property of high value was targeted, all of that property was recovered intact, so the loss to the companies is restricted to the damage caused.”
In relation to the Travis Perkins raid, Khadim Al’Hassan, for Maughan, suggested: “This is a multi-million-pound business, so this was a drop in the ocean for it.
“I am sure Your Honour will have a custodial sentence in mind, but Your Honour may be able to pass a sentence which does not involve his immediate imprisonment.”
And Vincent Blake-Barnard, for Martin Ward, described the father-of-three, with another child on the way, as ‘perhaps the most naïve when it comes to criminality.’
Recorder Adrian Reynolds responded: “I accept he has no previous convictions, but this is serious organised commercial crime. You don’t go out in a van with more than one set of cloned plates on the spur of the moment.”
Jailing the three, Recorder Reynolds told them: “You are all men, you’re not boys. This was not some hot-headed enterprise.
“The three of you were in a van that was stolen, and there were not one, but two sets of cloned plates, so you knew you were going to do more than one burglary.
“You went from Attleborough to Swadlincote to Rugby in the space of a few hours, and you knew you were going to target builders’ merchants, and you stole goods worth, in round figures, over £75,000.
“Someone was going to make a lot of money out of this. This was serious organised commercial crime, and I have no alternative other than to reflect that by locking you three up.”