30/10/2009

'Disguised' London Burglars Jailed

A gang of theives, who often disguised themselves as workmen to target a string of Marks & Spencer stores, were this week jailed for a total of 12 years.

The Inner London Crown Court had been told that three or four men at a time, wearing yellow high visibility jackets, hard hats and dust masks would force their way into the stores and then steal cash from the tills of large branches of the high street chain.

Officers from the Met Police Territorial Policing Crime Squad worked together with the London Regional Intelligence Unit, South East Regional Intelligence Unit and Metropolitan Intelligence Bureau on the nationwide investigation to crack the organized criminal network.

They also worked in partnership with Marks & Spencer and numerous police forces, in particular Hertfordshire Constabulary.

Sentencing them, Judge Burne said the men were a group of sophisticated and professional burglars.

There were three defendants before the court, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle between 1 August, 2008 and 31 January, 2009 - Paul Debenham, 26, of Gatestone Court, Central Hill, London; Dean Baldwin, 25, of Harewood Gardens, Sanderstead; and Michael Weightman, 26, of Festival Court, Cleeve Way, Sutton.

Debenham was sentenced to three years, plus 12 months for a domestic burglary, to run concurrently; Dean Baldwin to six years and Weightman to three years and eight months.

Detective Chief Inspector Gary Kelly, of the Met's Territorial Crime Squad said: "The tenacity and expertise of the team meant we were able to stop this gang in their tracks and bring them to justice.

"This is an excellent example of how working in partnership and developing a co-ordinated approach can result in the successful disruption of organised criminal networks and the seizure of their assets.

"I would like to thank everyone concerned in the operation, particularly Gary Dolby, CPS Prosecutor who worked tirelessly to ensure that this operation met with a successful conclusion."

(BMcC/KMcA)

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