THE last member of a gang who were involved in a £400,000 stolen car parts conspiracy has been sent to prison.
Christopher Holland, 37, was jailed for 16 months over his role in the operation in which parts from luxury vehicles stolen in Leeds were stripped and sold off.
Most of the vehicles involved had been stolen from homes across the city when burglars broke into properties during the night in order to get car keys.
Two vehicles were also taken during robberies in which violence was used.
Vehicles would then be stripped of parts to be sold on for huge profits. The gang would then arrange of the empty shell of the car to be taken away and scrapped. The gang, from the Halton Moor area of Leeds, were caught red-handed when police, with the help of firefighters who used cutting equipment, forced their way into a secure compound in Sherburn-in-Elmet as they were dismantling a £50,000 Audi.
The gang also used secure premises on Whitehouse Street, Hunslet, were they were filmed coming and going with vehicles and paying a van driver to take away parts. A total of 21 stolen vehicles were handled by the gang.
Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday how Holland was involved in dismantling two vehicles - a £35,000 Mercedes and a £13,000 Toyota Rav4. Holland, of Rathmell Road, Halton Moor, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to handle stolen goods.
Judge Tom Bayliss, QC, said: “The courts will do what they can to deter gangs of handlers who, by their activities, create a market for stolen goods.”
Four other men involved in the nine-month illegal operation were jailed earlier this month.
Christopher Hargreaves, 35, of Ullswater Crescent, and Peter Orford, 32, of Kendal Drive - were both jailed for eight years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to handle stolen goods.
Lee Wigglesworth, 28, of Sedbergh Close, Halton Moor, was jailed for 16 months and Kevan Smith, 23, of Raylands Lane, was jailed 15 months.
Det Sgt Ciaran Burns said: “These men were involved in an organised criminal enterprise handling hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of cars stolen in burglaries and robberies in both Leeds and North Yorkshire.
“Behind every one of those stolen vehicles is a victim who has suffered not just financial loss but often the trauma and indignity of having their home invaded by thieves and on some occasions being threatened and assaulted.”