A chainsaw-wielding robbery gang who targeted Asian jewellers have been jailed for a total of 57 years.
The gang of four made off with an estimated £250,000 haul from the raids in West Yorkshire.
Leeds Crown Court heard how one raid, on WS Jewellers, in Wakefield, involved a robber brandishing a chainsaw to frighten off passers by.
The raids also involved masked men armed with sledgehammers, pick axes and knives.
Gang members Patrick “Mandy” Lowther 33, Steven Barker, 35, and Garner Smith, 33, were all jailed for 16 years after being convicted of conspiracy to rob. Fellow plotter John Boy Morrison, 40, was jailed for nine years.
Judge Tom Bayliss QC, told the men: “The target of this conspiracy was a number of Asian jewellery Shops in the area of West Yorkshire.
“The distinction between such shops and high street jewellers is they are often in quiet residential areas and often occupied by (lone) proprietors.
“In other words they present a soft target. But these yield valuable rewards to men like you.”
The court heard how the robbers first struck at Sona Jewellers in Blacker Road, Huddersfield on February 25, 2012. They arrived at closing time in a stolen Land Rover, carrying hammers, and broke in. They then funnelled the gems into builders’ bags.
Their next raid was at Assad Jewellers in Purlwell Lane, Batley on March 8. They were armed with pieces of wood and a large knife and tried to force their way in by reversing a VW Transporter through the door.
The owners managed to keep them out but one member of staff suffered a slash to his arm and needed hospital treatment.
In the last raid they stole they stole £150,000 worth of jewellery and £4,000 cash from jeweller Nasir Hussain in Wakefield after smashing their way inside. Morrison, of Cottingley Springs caravan site, Gildersome, Lowther, of Castle Gardens, Rothwell, Barker, of Merchant Court, East Bowling, Bradford, and Smith, of Montrose Street, Bolton Woods, Bradford, denied conspiracy to rob but were convicted after a three-week trial.
The court heard the lengthy jail sentences would hit the defendants’ families hard.
Judge Bayliss said Morrison had less involvement than the others. The dad-of three had also lost his wife to illness during the case.
The judge said: “All of you are men who offend prolifically and sophisticatedly and determinedly. You have been involved in organised crime in the past.”