Operation Scorpion was a reactive investigation by the NERSOU Operation Bombay team into the theft of large quantities of cigarettes from vehicles targeted specifically on the car parks of Cash and Carry Stores across the North of England.
Offenders used vehicles bearing false/cloned registration plates to observe customers loading vehicles with cigarettes.
The offenders then kept them under observation, sometimes following their victims to their next stop and once the vehicle was left unattended entry was forced and cigarettes and other property stolen.
False plates were changed on the offending vehicles on a regular basis sometimes within minutes of committing offences. Evidence gathered indicates the offending vehicle on occasion travelled in convoy with another with as many as four or five suspects involved in each crime.
The following 5 suspects from the Lancashire force area were identified, arrested and following a complex investigation by the Operation Bombay team they were convicted at Newcastle Crown Court 07/08/15 of Conspiracy to Commit Theft between September 2013 and June 2014.
Offences committed by this OCG were identified in the following force areas; Northumbria, Durham, Cleveland, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, GMP, Cheshire, Lancashire, Staffordshire and South Wales.
The suspect Patrick Pio Mcdonagh was charged with a separate conspiracy to steal between October and November 2013 and awaits trial later this year.
On Monday 28th September 2015, the 5 suspects were sentenced for more than 13 years after pleading guilty to cinspracy to steal:
Martin Joseph Maughan, 32, of Accrington was sentenced to four years.
James Francis Maughan, 33, of Accrington was sentenced to four years.
Patrick Christopher Maughan, 19, of Blackburn was sentenced to two years.
Patrick Christopher Maughan, also 19, of Accrington was sentenced to two years.
John Crabtree, 62, of Accrington was sentenced to 20 months.
Patrick C MAUGHAN