Gang who travelled to Gateshead are behind bars after £140,000 cable theft plot
A gang of burglars embroiled in a £140,000 cable theft plot are today starting more than 10 years behind bars.
The organised criminals were part of a conspiracy to steal large drums of metal cable across the North East.
Dressed as workmen and armed with vans and cutting equipment, the men targeted unsupervised compounds.
But their scheme was brought down when sharp-eyed detectives linked them to a break-in at the BT depot in Team Valley, Gateshead, which led them to other jobs across the North.
Now, all seven members of the gang - David Price, Christopher Lee, Lee Sheeran, Daniel Chadwick, Michael Chadwick, James Price and Trevor Smith - have been jailed for a total of 10 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to steal and one to theft.
In one raid, eight drums of heavy copper cable - worth £20,000 - was stolen from the BT depot on the Team Valley in Gateshead before James Price booked rooms for six of them at the Travelodge, in Durham City.
Jailing the gang in a hearing at Newcastle Crown Court, Judge Brian Forster QC said: “It is clear from the information that I have read for some of you this type of offending was your daily work.
“You were well equipped and you even obtained jackets to wear.”
The gang, from Merseyside, targeted 19 depots across England, from the Midlands to the North and into the Borders and Scotland, as far north as Perth, from February 2013 to June 2013.
Other premises to be targeted included a compound in Darlington and another in Carlisle.
Matters came to a head for some of the group on June 9 2013 when they entered the Scottish Southern Electric depot in Dundee where they stole £2,000 worth of cable.
Police were called and Sheeran, Lee, and the Chadwicks were arrested and mobile phones were seized.
Phone records discovered a text sent from David Price’s phone to Michael Chadwick which read: “F*** u scottice police I will be bk u *****.”
Tim Gittins, prosecuting, said: “The case follows a police investigation into the professional targeting of depots, particularly British Telecom depots across England, from the Midlands to the North and into the Borders and Scotland, as far north as Perth, by a team travelling from Merseyside. Their aim was to steal large drums of metal cable that was readily capable of being sold to scrap metal dealers.”
James Price, 30, of Broad Oak Road, St Helens who pleaded guilty to one theft was sentenced to 12 months plus two months for breach of a suspended sentence.
David Price, 25, of Broad Oak Road, St Helens was sentenced to 32 months plus two months for breach of suspended sentence when he was found to be linked to 17 jobs.
Trevor Smith, 37, of Riverdale, Frodsham, Cheshire, who was responsible for 13 jobs was sentenced to two years.
Michael Chadwick, 26, of Gloucester Street, St Helens was sentenced to 16 months for five jobs.
Christopher Lee, 22, of Gloucester Street, St Helens was sentenced to 20 months for five jobs.
Daniel Chadwick, 21, of Gloucester Street, St Helens was sentenced to 20 months for seven jobs.
Lee Sheeran, 29, of HMP Durham, was sentenced to two years for 17 jobs.
In defence, the court heard David Price was the father of three children, James Price “only dipped his toes in the water”, and Sheeran said he had pleaded guilty at an early stage.
Meanwhile, Daniel Chadwick was the bottom of the scale of the organisation, Smith provided the “muscle” for the job, and Lee had a small child. Michael Chadwick’s partner recently gave birth to a premature baby and he was keen to support her.
The NERSOU sees specialist staff from the region’s three forces - Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland - work together to protect communities from organised crime.
Detective Superintendent Tim Walker, Head of NERSOU, said: “These were professional crimes carried out by a gang prepared to engage time, effort and expenditure to travel far and wide. They came to the North East for no other reason than to commit serious offences.
“NERSOU officers conducted a meticulous investigation that led to today’s convictions and yet again we have demonstrated our commitment to hunt down travelling criminals who commit crime in the Cleveland, Durham and Northumbria force areas.”
A spokesperson from Openreach part of the BT group said: “These attacks and theft of cable impacted on our engineers being able to deliver customer planned work and was a significant financial loss to the business.
“The support and help from the North East Regional Special Operations Unit who worked across several police force boundaries has been vital in making sure the scale of these thefts across the country were brought together in one operation, bringing these individuals to justice and securing a prosecution”.