A “highly organised” gang of burglars who traumatised victims in a string of raids at homes has been jailed for a total of more than 11 years.
The six Bradford criminals stole jewellery, cash and goods valued at more than £200,000 during 11 burglaries and a robbery over four months in 2012.
In one incident in Elland, three of the men, wearing balaclavas, threatened to shoot a stroke victim and “smash” his legs before stealing a safe containing gold.
Police said they would target one area repeatedly before moving elsewhere in the county in a bid to avoid detection. Over three days they committed four burglaries in the Halifax area using a silver Subaru estate. That vehicle was pursued by police following one of the incidents and abandoned in Thornton, Bradford. They travelled in unregistered vehicles and tried to avoid leaving forensic evidence.
In many cases they targeted Asian families to steal gold jewellery.
As well as Bradford, they targeted properties in Armley, Rawdon, Drighlington, Dewsbury, Halifax and Elland. At Teesside Crown Court, all six were sentenced for conspiracy to commit burglaries and all received custodial sentences in young offender institutions.
Michael Crosdale, 19, of Valley View, Baildon, was sentenced to 38 months; Anthony Hardisty, 21, of Palin Avenue, Bradford Moor, received a 32-month sentence; Anthony Davey, 21, of Harrogate Road, Eccleshill, Bradford, was given a 30-month term with concurrent six-month and two-month sentences for burglary; Aiden Rouse, 20, of Norman Lane, Eccleshill, Bradford, Kane Harrison, 20, of Fencote Crescent, Fagley, Bradford, and Jamie Sherlock, 20, of Tyersal Court, Tyersal, Bradford, were all sentenced to 12 months.
Detective Inspector Simon Jessup, who heads the Leeds District Burglary Task Force, said: “These men were responsible for a determined campaign of crimes that left a trail of victims across the county. Not only did people have their homes invaded and lose items of material and sentimental value, but some faced the nightmare scenario of being confronted by masked men and threatened with violence.”
The gang was caught as a result of an investigation dubbed Operation Axilshot, which was led by officers from the Leeds District Burglary Task Force. Officers traced every vehicle of a particular type in the country to prove that the offenders’ vehicles were the only ones that could have been in the relevant areas at the relevant times.