Burglar who stole from Grantham store jailed for more than six years
A burglar who was part of a gang which targeted supermarkets across four counties during a three month crime spree was today jailed for six years and five months at Lincoln Crown Court.
Roy Langdale was involved with cousins Wesley and John Smith in carrying out a string of night time raids across Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire to steal cigarettes and cash from supermarkets. One of those stores they targeted was the Tesco Express in Winchester Road, off Barrowby Gate in Grantham, in June last year.
They also smashed their way into a Santander Bank on the Northampton University campus and forced open an ATM machine stealing more than £50,000 cash.
Langdale, 32, of Worcester Way, Royston, Hertfordshire, admitted a charge of conspiracy to burgle between March 29, and July 1, 2017.
The Smiths were each given 10 year jail sentences at an earlier hearing.
Gordon Aspden, prosecuting, said the three men stole high performance Audi cars to transport them to the scene of their crimes and used stolen number plates to disguise the identity of the vehicles.
He told the court that over £140,000 worth of property was taken in the commercial burglaries with £125,000 worth of damage caused. Three high performance Audi cars were taken following house burglaries staged to steal the car keys. The value of the three Audi cars was £108,700 with £46,700 damage cause to the vehicles.
Mr Aspden told the jury: "There were 14 commercial burglaries and one attempted commercial burglary. In the main all of the burglaries followed a similar pattern.
"Dwelling houses were broken into to steal high performance cars that were used by the gang. Number plates were stolen which were then attached to the cars
"In the early hours of the morning these three men would target commercial premises.
"Having broken in two members of the gang would ransack the premises stealing money and cigarettes while a third man would act as a sentry and a look-out ready to deal with any member of the public who tried to intervene.
"The gang was very conscious that the buildings they were targeting would be alarmed so they worked at great speed. The property they stole was often taken away in large black plastic bins they brought with them.
"At the conclusion the gang would drive away at high speed to avoid arrest. The stolen vehicles they used were either abandoned or set on fire. The gang was aware of police investigative techniques and would go out of their way to avoid leaving any evidence such as fingerprints. They did not use any mobile phones on the nights of the burglaries.
"The motive was pure greed. They believed they were above the law and that they were so clever they would get away with it. They were wrong."
The gang staged successful raids on Tesco stores in Market Deeping, Grantham and Ramsey. They also raided Waitrose in Oundle, Cooper's Convenience Store in Kirton , near Boston, and Kate's Cabin filling station at Chesterton, Cambridgeshire and carried out a number of other unsuccessful burglaries.
They were eventually arrested after police targeted a stolen Audi being driven in the early hours of the morning in Cambridgeshire.
Mr Aspden said "The stolen Audi drove over a police stinger device near the village of Great Staughton but did not stop. It continued with deflated tyres and then on wheel rims at speeds reaching 100 mph."
Items were thrown from the windows of the car which was eventually driven into a field and abandoned.
Wesley Smith and John Smith fled but Langdale was arrested after he was found on top of a shed in the garden of a property in Great Staughton. Clothing and other items were recovered by police. DNA testing linked the items to the three men.
Judge Simon Hirst, passing sentence, told Langdale: "There was significant planning in this. Plainly you were all going out equipped for burglary and were all acting as a team."
Mark Watson, for Langdale, said there was evidence that he had been recruited by the Smiths after the three of them met while all were serving previous prison sentences at North Sea Camp open jail near Boston.
"Having been recruited he would have been have been under the Smiths. It was their gig."
Wesley Smith, 35 , and John Smith, 44, both of Oxney Lane, Peterborough, each denied a charge of conspiracy to burgle but were found guilty by a jury following a trial. They were each jailed for 10 years at an earlier hearing.