Brothers stole catalytic converters from Toyota, Lexus and Honda hybrid cars during 'spike' in offences across Leeds
Two brothers were involved in the theft of catalytic converters from cars across Leeds, a court heard.
Patrick and John Maughan were arrested in May this year, at a time when there had been a significant 'spike' in similar offences across the city.
Toyota, Lexus and Honda hybrid cars were targeted by thieves who jacked up vehicles in the street before removing the catalytic converters.
Leeds Crown Court heard vehicles were targeted for the scrap value of the exhaust emission devices because they are rich in precious metals such as platinum, rhodium and palladium.
Alex Menary, prosecuting, said 541 offences had been reported across West Yorkshire, including 277 in Leeds, during a six-month period before the pair were arrested.
Police estimated each theft to be worth around £1,000.
Following the arrests, the number of reported incidents "dramatically reduced" to around one per week.
The defendants pleaded guilty to offences which occurred between May 10 and May 15 in Tingley, West Ardsley, East Ardsley, Beeston, Roundhay, Halton and Austhorpe.
Mr Menary said offences were often carried out in the early hours of the morning.
Cars would be jacked up and the catalytic converters removed with a drill or saw.
A victim contacted the police on May 16 to report a Ford Mondeo parked near to where one offence took place.
Officers searched the vehicle, which was fitted with a false Irish registration plate, and recovered a car jack, a saw and a drill.
Both defendants were arrested after officers stopped a Seat Leon they were travelling in nearby.
One of the men was in possession of the key to the Mondeo.
Mr Menary said the Mondeo had been captured on CCTV footage parked near to where other offences had taken place.
The defendants refused to comment during a police interview.
Patrick Maughan, 40, of Brothers Street, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to eight counts of theft. He was jailed for 15 months
John Maughan, 35, of Foxstones Crescent, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to three counts of theft.
He was given a ten-month sentence, suspended for 18 months. He was also made the subject of a three-month curfew order and told to complete 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days.
Mr Menary said some of the victims had provided statements to the court describing their distress at seeing the offences when reviewing CCTV footage.
One of the victims was a taxi driver who was unable to work for two months until his car was repaired.
Another victim said: "The security I felt in my home is now shattered."
Jonathan Turner, mitigating, said both men worked hard to support their families but became involved in the offending to fund their drug habits.
Mr Turner said both of his clients no longer abused drugs and had been assessed as being a low risk of reoffending.
After the case, Detective Inspector Vicky Vessey, of Leeds District Crime Team, said: “The organised theft of catalytic converters from vehicles saw a sharp increase earlier this year in Leeds and across West Yorkshire, which mirrored a national trend.
“It is a crime that really affects victims who are unable to use their vehicles until they can be repaired and can also face sizeable expense and inconvenience.
“Officers from Leeds District Crime Team have been working alongside district and Force colleagues to mount proactive operations targeting those responsible, and the successful outcome of this investigation is testament to that work.
“We hope the victims and the wider community can take some reassurance from knowing these two have now had to answer for their actions.
“We have thankfully seen a significant reduction in the number of offences since the spike in numbers earlier this year, but we can never be complacent and are continuing to focus our attention on tackling this type of crime wherever offences do occur.
“We have been running initiatives to help drivers get their catalytic converters security marked and we encourage people to do this and to consider other crime prevention measures.
“We’d also ask that people remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to us immediately.”
A third defendant, Brian Nevan, aged 29 of Chantry Road, Wakefield, also faces theft charges in relation to the offending.
He failed to attend an earlier court hearing and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.