A gang stole Range Rovers worth £800,000 during a month long crime spree targeting leafy villages. Some drivers had their cars stolen just minutes after parking up and thinking they’d left the vehicles secure.
But the thieves used sophisticated technology including signal jammers to allow them to drive off with the expensive cars, worth between £65,000 and £100,000. The gang struck ten times in almost a month, mainly in leafy villages including Alderley Edge and Hale Barns, Manchester Crown Court heard.
Some were stolen from supermarket car parks including Booths and Waitrose, in town centres or from driveways. One man had driven to Hale to collect his prescription in his £80,000 Range Rover, only to return five minutes later to find two men in his car.
He was pushed away by one of them before the thief slammed the door shut and sped away. A judge said the crime was ‘tantamount to a robbery’.
The ten cars stolen were worth around £800,000, prosecutors said. Some vehicles have not been recovered. Five members of the gang, from Rochdale, Oldham and Longsight, have now been brought to justice after CCTV and cell site evidence pinned them to various thefts.
“The speed with which these cars were stolen having been identified demonstrates the planning and targeting of this conspiracy,” Judge Sarah Johnston said. She told the gang: “You worked as a team. It was planned offending, it was targeted offending.
“You caused distress and you caused fear. This offending is motivated only by greed.”
Michael Andrews, 33, Jonathan Langley, 28, Faisel Hussain, 29, and Nazish Shakeel, 30, were all locked up, while Shaun Andrews, 28, avoided jail. The thefts occurred between April 18 and May 12, with police making arrests the following day.
Seven of the ten cars stolen were Range Rovers. Thefts occurred in Alderley Edge, Altrincham, Hale and Hale Barns, Poynton and Rochdale.
Langley, Michael Andrews, Hussain and Shakeel were arrested after being found in a blue BMW on May 13. A signal jammer was found in the car which can be used to interfere with the frequency for key fobs, so cars are prevented from locking properly.
Several of the victims recalled locking their vehicles, only to discover that they had been stolen. Some had ‘essential’ items stored in their cars which have been lost, and others now experience feelings of ‘nervousness’ and ‘insecurity’ after becoming a victim of crime, prosecutor Chloe Fordham said.
They have been left out of pocket and face higher insurance premiums, she added. All five men pleaded guilty to being part of the conspiracy. Dad-of-two Michael Andrews had a ‘very bad’ problem with class A drugs and was sofa surfing or sleeping rough, his barrister David Bruce said.
A crack pipe containing his DNA was found in the BMW when they were arrested. Hussain ‘slid into’ the gang and was not a ‘main player’ within the conspiracy, his barrister Keith Harrison claimed.
Mr Harrison said Hussain has had his face ‘slashed’ in jail. “Those higher up the chain who are not before the court were anxious that this defendant should not run a trial,” the lawyer said.
Defending Langley, Richard Orme said the defendant had taken a ‘dive into the deep end’ of crime, having committed no serious offences previously. Defending Shakeel, Pat Buckley said the defendan was paid ‘£100 a time’ for his involvement, and regrets getting involved.
Robert Smith said Shaun Andrews was in a ‘different position’ to the other defendants, as he was only involved in one theft. He said Andrews had problems with drugs but is motivated to change.
Michael Andrews, 33, of Ansdell Road, Rochdale; Shaun Andrews 28, also of Ansdell Road, Rochdale, Langley, 28, of St Mary’s Close, Rochdale; Hussain, 29, of Shaw Road, Royton, Oldham; Shakeel, 30, of Northmoor Road, Longsight, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal.
All defendants except for Shaun Andrews also admitted going equipped for theft. Michael Andrews and Hussain were both jailed for three years and nine months.
Shakeel was sentenced to three years and seven months, and Langley was locked up for three years. Shaun Andrews received a 19 month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months. He was ordered to complete a six month drug rehabilitation programme and a ‘thinking skills’ course.
A timeline of the crime spree:
- April 18 – Land Rover Sport worth £70,000 stolen from a driveway in Rochdale.
- April 22 – Range Rover Sport worth £65,000 stolen from the street in Alderley Edge.
- April 24 – Range Rover worth more than £100,000 stolen from Altrincham town centre.
- April 24 – Car worth £55,000 stolen from home in Poynton.
- April 29 – Range Rover worth £70,000 stolen from the centre of Alderley Edge.
- April 30 – Car worth £70,000 stolen from Booths supermarket in Hale Barns.
- May 1 – Range Rover Sport worth £70,000 stolen from home in Hale.
- May 10 – Range Rover worth £80,000 stolen from Altrincham town centre.
- May 11 – Range Rover worth £80,000 stolen from centre of Hale.
- May 12 – Range Rover worth £65,000 stolen from Waitrose car park in Alderley Edge.
- May 13 – Police arrest Langley, Michael Andrews, Hussain and Shakeel.