A prolific gang of car thieves have been sentenced to more than 21 years in prison for running a criminal business which netted more than £1 million between 2005 and 2010 through stealing Land Rovers belonging to farmers and builders.
One woman and five men were sentenced at Northampton Crown Court today (Tuesday 12 February) for 11 separate offences including conspiracy to steal, conspiracy to convert criminal property and concealing criminal property.
The investigation, which began in August 2010, saw officers identify Andra Hoyland as the thief.
He was targeting rural communities, often farmers and builders who owned Land Rovers. He would break into the car and start it up. The driver – Del Swane - would then drive it away.
The driver would then drive the car up to Birmingham and meet the handler – Martin Warren. Martin together with his family ran a business in Forge Lane, Minworth, Birmingham specialising in the sale of Land Rovers and parts.
At the centre of the operation was Martin Warren, supported by his partner Jacqueline Neal who ran the family accounts with their son Christopher Neal. Their other son, Jason Warren, helped run the business.
During the investigation, officers found that over £1 million had been deposited in the accounts of Jacqueline and Christopher Neal between 2005 and 2010. More than £32,000 in cash was also recovered from a safe in the house – the family claimed this was cash from a Lottery win.
Parts belonging to two stolen Land Rovers, valued at £28,000 each, were recovered from the family business, as well as more than £400,000-worth of other Land Rover parts.
The investigation revealed that Land Rovers had been stolen from across the midlands. In Northamptonshire, Land Rovers were stolen from Rushden, Yardley Hastings, Newnham, Desborough and Lower Boddington.
Following the arrests, Andra Hoyland, 29, from Northampton Road, Broughton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and was sentenced to four years.
Del Swane, 50, from Cardigan Place, Kettering, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and was sentenced to two years.
The Warren/Neal family pleaded not guilty and stood trial between Wednesday 23 January and Wednesday 6 February.
Martin Warren, 52, from Crawshaws Road, Birmingham, was found guilty by a jury, of conspiracy to steal, convert and conceal criminal property.
He was sentenced to six years for conspiracy to steal, three years for conspiracy to convert – to be served consecutively, and three years for conspiracy to conceal – to be served concurrently.
Jacqueline Neal, 52, from Crawshaws Road, Birmingham, was found guilty by a jury, of conspiracy to convert and conceal criminal property. She was sentenced to two years and nine months.
Christopher Neal, 29, from Crawshaws Road, Birmingham, was found guilty by a jury, of conspiracy to convert and conceal criminal property. He was sentenced to two years.
Jason Warren, 32, from Crawshaws Road, Birmingham, was found guilty by a jury, of conspiracy to convert and conceal criminal property. He was sentenced to one year and six months.
Detective Inspector Louise Hemingway, who led the investigation, said: “This was a highly organised and sophisticated criminal conspiracy.
“They were prolific in committing vehicle crime, and in particular they mainly targeted our rural communities - the farmers and builders who needed their Land Rovers for their working life.
“We started this investigation in August 2010, and in the following three months we identified at least 14 Land Rover thefts by this gang.”