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Organised crime gang pleads guilty to 11-month crime spree across Cambridgeshire including Burwell, Newmarket and Soham

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Richard Oakley, 27, of Sandy Park, Beck Row (left) and Johnny Oakley, 25, of Sandy Park, Beck Row (5167769)
Richard Oakley, 27, of Sandy Park, Beck Row (left) and Johnny Oakley, 25, of Sandy Park, Beck Row (5167769)

An organised crime gang with members from Beck Row pleaded guilty to committing more than 200 burglaries, costing victims more than £2 million, in an 11-month crime spree.

The gang raided homes and businesses in Newmarket, Soham, Burwell, Fordham, Dullingham, Isleham, Chippenham, Stow cum Quay, Swaffham Bulbeck and Cheveley between February and December last year.

Often in broad daylight, three or four members would mask their faces using balaclavas and smash or force open doors or windows with tools found at the scene.

They would steal specific items, mainly high-powered BMWs and Audis, firearms, cash and jewellery, all of which they could dispose of through contacts.

Stolen vehicles were put on false plates and left in residential parking areas before being used to commit further crimes.

Most of the raids were on homes, although commercial premises and ATM's, including Burwell's Ness Road Co-op, were targeted.

On November 17 last year the gang smashed their way through the store's automatic doors and tried to remove a cash machine. But the gang were unsuccessful and fled the scene.

Nine of the gang, mostly family members, close and distant, are from the traveller community, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary.

They are:

  • Richard Oakley, 27, of Sandy Park, Beck Row
  • Johnny Oakley, 25, of Sandy Park, Beck Row
  • Timothy Stone-Parker, 24, of Clay Way, Ely
  • Joseph Holmes, 21, of Schole Road, Willingham
  • Charlie Albert Webb, 20, from Newton Flotman, Norfolk
  • John Eli Loveridge, 42, of Greenways, Carleton Rode, Norfolk
  • John Stanley Loveridge, 23, of Greenways, Carleton Rode, Norfolk
  • Danny Stone Parker, 28, of Braintree Road, Great Dunmow
  • Joe John Spencer Loveridge, 19, of Winchester Road, Sandy, Bedfordshire

A tenth man, Simon Oakley, 45, of Alburgh Road, Hempnall, Norwich, was found guilty of conspiracy to burgle on Wednesday following a trial at Norwich Crown Court.

Detective Inspector Craig Harrison, who led the investigation, said: “For members of this gang crime was just a way of life. In July last year they committed seven burglaries on one day and then eight the next and carried out about 50 for the whole month.

“Every one of those crimes had a victim so the trauma and devastation caused in quite a short space of time was immense. They clearly had no care at all for the impact their offending was having on communities, particularly in south and east Cambridgeshire, which were particularly badly hit, and, indeed, across the region.

“One victim had recently lost his wife and they stole her jewellery and a purse, which we have since recovered for him.

“Another victim had lost her husband and suffers from dementia. They stole her husband’s medals but we managed to recover those too.”

DI Harrison formed a team dedicated to the burglary series after police began linking offences in the east Cambridgeshire area in the spring of last year.

High performance vehicles were being stolen, had their identities changed and were then later used in further crimes.

More than one stolen vehicle would be used at any one time in conjunction with ‘clean’ or disposable vehicles.

Some vehicles were never found and were disposed of through garages, or ‘chop shop’ premises, including one in Algores Way, Wisbech, where they were cut up for parts with a view to selling on or export.

The gang targeted homes in rural areas, where they could make easy getaways and stole high-performance vehicles to give themselves a better chance of out-running police.

In an incident on July 20, one of the gang drove a stolen red Audi TTRS through a railway crossing at Lakenheath in a bid to get away from police and the driver of an oncoming train had to take emergency action to avoid a collision.

The vehicle was later recovered at Beck Row travellers’ site. In the car was items from eight separate burglaries, a firearm and seven puppies, which had also been stolen in a burglary and were later returned to their owner.

The gang had committed eight burglaries that day, July 20, and seven burglaries the day before and it was estimated about 50 burglaries that month, all using the red Audi.

Stolen puppies in car boot (5167199)
Stolen puppies in car boot (5167199)

Firearms stolen in burglaries were either kept or moved on to other criminals: in February this year, a shotgun stolen in a burglary in Ten Mile Bank in February 2017 was recovered by police searching a property in Willesden, North West London.

The burglars will be sentenced at a later date, along with two other men - James Pateman, 55, of no fixed abode, and his brother, Thomas Brown, 54, of Fen Road, Chesterton, Cambridge - who on Wednesday were found guilty of handling stolen goods following a trial at Norwich Crown Court.

DI Harrison said: “This gang was single-handedly responsible for a crimewave in Cambridgeshire throughout most of last year and today they have been brought to justice.”