A criminal gang have been jailed for an epic thieving spree in which they stole from cars and work vans parked outside hotels, pubs and restaurants in York – and even a prestigious wedding venue while the bride was getting married.
Thomas Coates, 35, and John Holt, 53, from Hull, made several thieving expeditions to North Yorkshire in search of rich pickings, York Crown Court heard.
Within hours, John Holt’s partner, Sarah Holt, 42, would trawl the internet looking to get a value for the stolen goods for onward sale, said prosecutor Dan Cordey.
Coates and John Holt stole over £12,000 of items from vehicles including power tools, jewellery, iPhones, laptops and even an elderly woman’s bus pass.
In one of the raids they ruined a couple’s wedding day.
An elderly woman had been at her granddaughter’s wedding at Sandburn Hall in Flaxton, near York, four days before Christmas 2019.
What started as a “joyous” occasion turned to one of despair when the elderly couple found their car’s passenger window had been smashed and their suitcase had disappeared.
Inside the case were the woman’s handbag, £687 of clothes, personal documents and “unique” jewellery including a ring, a chain, a pendant and a pair of earrings.
To add insult to injury, the couple had to drive back to Orkney on a freezing December day with an open car window which had been smashed.
However, through her own online sleuthing, the woman came across some of her jewellery for sale at a shop in Hull where Sarah Holt had flogged them.
Other thefts by Coates and John Holt included:
- £2,500 of power tools stolen from a van outside the White Swan pub in Hunmanby in January 2020
- two laptops worth £1,440 stolen from a vehicle outside the Fox Inn on Leeds Road, Selby in February 2020
- £1,000 of items from a vehicle outside the nearby Sanghthai restaurant on York Road, Escrick.
The total value of the stolen items over the seven-week thieving spree was put at £12,118.
Mr Cordey said that John Holt – the gang’s ringleader who had sold some of the stolen items to Coates – had 42 previous convictions for 117 offences including many for theft and vehicle crime.
His partner Sarah Holt had four previous convictions for offences including theft and handling stolen goods.
Defence counsel for John Holt and Coates said they had embarked on their crime spree because they were financially hard up.
Ian Phillip, for Sarah Holt, said that, unlike her partner, she had been working full-time, handling cash at a hotel.
Judge Simon Hickey slammed Coates and John Holt for stealing “valuable tools from working people” and “very sentimental, irreplaceable” jewellery from an elderly woman, as well as causing “anguish, heartache and inconvenience” to a bride on her wedding day.
John Holt, of Mollinson Road, Hessle, was jailed for two years and nine months for his lead role in the conspiracy, aggravated by his appalling criminal record.
Coates, Limerick Close, Hull, was jailed for ten months. Sarah Holt, also of Mollinson Road, was jailed for eight months because she too was “very close to the conspiracy”.