THREE crooks who were caught stealing £16,000 of children’s tricycles from the back of a lorry have been jailed.
Lee Howe, Michael Wilde and Gavin Woodhead were arrested as they were heading back to the their homes in Leeds from the raid in Nottingham in stolen vehicles.
Leeds Crown Court heard the men used a Mercedes sprinter van and an Audi which had been stolen from firms in West Yorkshire prior to the raid on October 11 last year.
They then drove to the East Midlands and stole four pallets of children’s tricycles from the back of a lorry as the driver was asleep in his cab. Wilde was stopped by police as he was driving the van north back to West Yorkshire.
Howe was driving the Audi and failed to stop for officers. He reached speeds of up to 136mph and drove on the hard shoulder as he was followed by officers. Howe, 29, of Delph Mount, Woodhouse, Wilde, 33, of Fountain Street, Morley, and Woodhead, 28, of Queenshill Drive, Moortown, pleaded guilty to two offences of using criminal property and theft. Howe also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and Wilde admitted driving without insurance and without a licence.
Mark McKone, for Howe, said his client had agreed to take part in the offence as he was in debt to drug dealers. Lawyers for Wilde and Woodhead described how they had been paid by others to take part in the offence and had pleaded guilty to the offences at an early opportunity.
Howe was jailed for three years, eight months. Woodhead was jailed for 30 months and Wilde was jailed for 25 months.
Judge Christopher Batty said: “This was a professional, organised crime. It was group offending and carefully planned.
“This was not a run-of-the-mill theft.”