A PROLIFIC gang of car thieves have been sentenced to a total of 21 years and three months in prison for running a criminal business, that saw farmers’ and builders’ Land Rovers being stolen from places including the Daventry area, netting them in excess of £1 million between 2005 and 2010.
One woman and five men were sentenced at Northampton Crown Court on Tuesday, February 12, for 11 separate offences including conspiracy to steal, conspiracy to convert criminal property and concealing criminal property.
An investigation revealed that Land Rovers had been stolen from across Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Buckinghamshire and Warwickshire.
In Northamptonshire, Land Rovers were stolen from Rushden, Yardley Hastings, Newnham, Desborough and Lower Boddington.
Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Adam Simmonds, said: “In my recently published Police and Crime Plan, I’ve placed strong emphasis on reducing vehicle crime and targeting rural crime.
Sentences such as those handed out today demonstrate our commitment to targeting criminals who think they can benefit from taking things from others, and in particular targeting those in our rural communities.”
The investigation, which began in August 2010, saw officers identify Andra Hoyland as the thief.
He was targeting rural communities, often farmers and builders who owned Land Rovers. He would break into the car and start it up. The driver – Del Swane - would then drive it away.
The driver would then drive the car up to Birmingham and meet the handler – Martin Warren. Martin together with his family ran a business in Forge Lane, Minworth, Birmingham specialising in the sale of Land Rovers and parts.
At the centre of the operation was Martin Warren, supported by his partner Jacqueline Neal who ran the family accounts with their son Christopher Neal. Their other son, Jason Warren, helped run the business.
During the investigation, officers found that over £1 million had been deposited in the accounts of Jacqueline and Christopher Neal between 2005 and 2010. £32,500 was also recovered from a safe in the house.
Parts belonging to two stolen Land Rovers, valued at £28,000 each, were recovered from the family business, as well as over £400,000 worth of other Land Rover parts.
Following the arrests, Andra Hoyland, aged 29 from Northampton Road, Broughton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and was sentenced to four years.
Del Swane, aged 50 from Cardigan Place, Kettering, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and was sentenced to two years.
The Warren/Neal family pleaded not guilty and stood trial between Wednesday 23 January and Wednesday 6 February.
Martin Warren, aged 52 from Crawshaws Road, Birmingham, was found guilty by a jury, of conspiracy to steal, convert and conceal criminal property.
He was sentenced to six years for conspiracy to steal, three years for conspiracy to convert – to be served consecutively, and three years for conspiracy to conceal – to be served concurrently.
Jacqueline Neal, aged 52 from Crawshaws Road, Birmingham, was found guilty by a jury, of conspiracy to convert and conceal criminal property. She was sentenced to two years and nine months.
Christopher Neal, aged 29 from Crawshaws Road, Birmingham, was found guilty by a jury, of conspiracy to convert and conceal criminal property. He was sentenced to two years.
Jason Warren, aged 32 from Crawshaws Road, Birmingham, was found guilty by a jury, of conspiracy to convert and conceal criminal property. He was sentenced to one year and six months.
In an unrelated case, Andra Hoyland together with his accomplice Richard Loveridge, aged 21 from Ecton Lane, Northampton, were also investigated for a series of prestige car thefts between November 2010 and early December 2010.
The men would identity cars that had been left switched on in the cold weather by owners looking to defrost windscreens. They would then simply drive the car away. Cars were stolen from across Northamptonshire and south Leicestershire.
Both men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and were also sentenced today in court.
Andra Hoyland was sentenced to four years in prison, which he must serve concurrently to his other sentence.
Richard Loveridge was sentenced to two years and six months in prison.
Detective Inspector Louise Hemingway, who led the investigation, said: “This was a highly organised and sophisticated criminal conspiracy.
“They were prolific in committing vehicle crime, and in particular they mainly targeted our rural communities - the farmers and builders who needed their Land Rovers for their working life.
“We started this investigation in August 2010, and in the following three months we identified at least 14 Land Rover thefts by this gang. A swift investigation resulted in the arrests being made in December 2010, bringing to an end their spree of car thefts.
“We welcome the sentences today and remain committed to pursuing those who carry out these crimes and bringing those responsible to justice.
“We will now be seeking the confiscation of the criminal assets and money gained by this organised gang.”