On Monday 15th January 2018 4 males from Liverpool have been jailed for in excess of 10 years for their involvement in organised thefts from delivery lorries during which cigarettes and cash to a value in excess of £70,000 was stolen.
Operation Scorpion 5 was a reactive investigation by NERSOU into a series of organised thefts from delivery lorries between 3rd June 2015 and 22nd December 2015. The investigation identified an Organised Crime Group based in Merseyside which was operating throughout the North of England.
NERSOU undertook the investigation following 2 identical offences in the Northumbria Police area which occurred on 8th October 2015 and 3rd December 2015. On these occasions the same delivery lorry from a Cash and Carry on the Team Valley Trading Estate was followed from the depot, to the area of Greentree Newsagents, Newcastle upon Tyne where the lorry was to make its first delivery. Whilst the driver was away from the vehicle, entry was gained and cigarettes to the value of approximately £8,000 was stolen on each occasion.
The investigation identified that a sophisticated surveillance of the vehicle had been conducted by the crime group from the time it left the depot until the theft occurred. The vehicle involved in this surveillance was subsequently identified by the investigation team as a Citroen C5 Tourer from the Liverpool area and on the Tuesday 22nd December 2015 Police action was taken against the group when this vehicle was caused to stop on the M62. At this time the driver of the vehicle Robert STEWART and the front seat passenger Brian JAGO were arrested for conspiracy to steal. During a subsequent search of the vehicle an assortment of items were recovered including bolt croppers, hooded snood’s, hats with ear phones inside them and a 2 way radio which was switched on at the time of the arrest identifying that there were further members of the group that they were communicating with.
Further extensive analytical work was then conducted by the investigative team on the movements of this crime group and as a result it was identified that they were part of a 4 man criminal team from the Liverpool area with the remaining members identified as James Henry MANGAN and Mark Anthony DELACRUZ. Two further vehicles were also identified as being utilised by the crime group a Silver coloured Ford Mondeo along with a Blue coloured Ford Focus C-Max which had travelled in convoy with the Citroen at times of criminality. These males were also arrested in Police action taken in the Liverpool area on Wednesday 30th March 2016.
Enquiries conducted as part of Operation Scorpion 5 linked this criminal group to 14 crimes of theft that occurred throughout the North of England between 1st June 2015 and 22 December 2015. These crimes took place in St Helens, Lancashire, West Yorkshire, Carlisle, Gateshead, Manchester, Staffordshire and Cheshire. The group’s behaviour displayed a sophisticated and organised level of criminal behaviour with reconnaissance of depots being carried out to identify vulnerable vehicles or routes. In addition to the live surveillance of the targeted vehicles undertaken on the days when the thefts have occurred, the stop of the Citroen C5 Tourer on 22nd December 2015 also evidenced the planning and preparation involved in the execution of this groups criminal enterprise.
His Honour Judge Spragg while sentencing described the group as a sophisticated criminal enterprise where an immediate custodial sentence in relation to a single count of conspiracy for 14 professional thefts was to be passed. All of the group had accepted there involvement in the conspiracy and none had suggested that one may be more responsible than the others. As a result the only difference in the sentence’s passed took into account the stage at which the offender had entered their guilty plea.
Detective Constable Paddy O’Keefe from NERSOU led the investigation into the crime group. Following the sentencing, he said: “The targeting of regional and national businesses with this type of crime has far reaching ramifications. Not only are they the victim of a theft which in many cases has already resulted in loss of thousands of pounds. It also brings about additional security processes which may have to be implemented in order to preserve reputational integrity and the consideration around the security of specific business premises. This in turn could directly impact upon the employment of staff and the investment in regions where companies are victim to this type of crime. Hopefully the sentences passed will reassure businesses in the North East that the Police will protect them as victims and also send a clear message to organised criminals looking to target the businesses here in our region that they will be pursued in their criminal enterprise and brought to justice for their actions.
Robert STEWART, 56 years, from Prince William Street, Liverpool – 2 years 4 months
Brian JAGO, 61 years, from Winkle Street, Liverpool – 2 years 4 months
James Henry MANGAN, 62 years, from Ravenna Road, Liverpool – 2 years 9 months
Mark Anthony DELACRUZ, 37 years, from Upper Frederick Street, Liverpool – 2 years 9 months