A gang of “professional” burglars who targeted homes in York and Harrogate have been jailed for a combined 12 years following a prolific thieving spree.
Chaz England, 21, Bailey Townend, 19, Nathan Lofthouse, 20, and Ainsley West, 20, stole tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of high-value goods and vehicles during the 12-month crime spree – as well as a York police officer’s warrant card and confidential NHS documents, York Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor Michael Cahill said Townend and others began their spree by stealing two vehicles including a £14,000 Mercedes Benz, before burgling a couple’s home in Cornwall Drive, York, on 3 August, 2020, when they stole three handbags and cash which they dumped in nearby woods.
Townend was later spotted in the Mercedes which was involved in a police chase. The vehicle was later found abandoned.
On the same day, West and others broke into a police officer’s home on Danum Road, York, and stole her warrant card, two purses, her make-up mirror and £33 cash. She had left them in her handbag in the kitchen but when she woke the following morning, it had vanished.
The gang also stole many items in Harrogate, including an £11,000 motorbike, a Ford Transit van, and a bag from the home of an NHS worker.
This contained sensitive NHS documents with information about people applying for NHS roles and security codes for an NHS building.
England was arrested on December 30, 2019, when police searched his home in Harrogate and found a stun gun and a small amount of cannabis in his bedroom.
Townend, of Knaresborough Road, Harrogate ultimately admitted two counts of burglary, three counts of stealing a vehicle and possessing cannabis.
England, of Walworth Avenue, Harrogate, admitted burglary, theft of a motor vehicle and attempted burglary, as well as possessing cannabis and a prohibited weapon.
Lofthouse, of Franklin Road, Harrogate, admitted two counts of burglary and attempted theft of a vehicle.
West, of Cross Green, Leeds, admitted two counts of burglary, theft of a vehicle and handling stolen goods, namely the car-registration plates.
Townend had 36 previous convictions for 72 offences, the majority for theft but also three previous burglaries.
Lofthouse had a previous conviction for dangerous driving and failing to provide a specimen for analysis from February last year.
West had 25 previous convictions for 57 offences including burglary, theft from a dwelling and dangerous driving.
Judge Sean Morris, the Recorder of York, jailed Townend for four years and three months.
West was jailed for four years and seven months, England for two years and four months, and Lofthouse was imprisoned for 17 months.