Suffolk/Essex: Pair admit to conspiring to burgle more than 30 schools

Ipswich Crown Court Ipswich Crown Court

Thursday, June 26, 2014
2:56 PM

Two men have admitted conspiring to commit more than 30 school burglaries in Essex and Suffolk during which laptops and computer equipment were stolen.

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Christopher Kerr, 26, of Halstead Road, Frinton, and Francis Wilding, 22, of Broadway, Jaywick, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary over an nine-month period when they appeared before Ipswich Crown Court.

The offence took place between August 1, 2012, and May 1 last year.

The pair admitted conspiring to enter educational establishments to steal.

It is understood the charge relates to up to 38 break-ins.

Following their guilty pleas Kerr and Wilding had their cases adjourned for sentencing until July 11.

Both men were released on conditional bail.

The Suffolk burglaries involved in the case are understood to have taken place in Rougham, Moulton, Bardwell, Kersey, Easton, Bramfield, Monks Eleigh, Great Barton, Witnesham, Stoke Ash, Bentley and Risby.

In Essex the locations involved were understood to have been in Colchester, Langham, Ardleigh, Weeley, Clacton, Bradfield, Dedham, Lawford, Tendring, Bulmer, Great Bromley, Clacton, Messing, Shalford, Woodham Walter, Fordham, Chelmsford and Rayne.

Last April it emerged that a special operation, codenamed Justine, had been commissioned by Suffolk Constabulary to tackle burglaries which had been taking place across both counties.

As part of the proactive side of the operation schools were visited by crime reduction officers in order for advice on site security to be given. Suffolk officers were also liaising with their counterparts in Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire.

Last year Suffolk Constabulary figures showed that over a 16-month period from January 2012 to April 2013 nearly 320 laptops, computers and Apple iMacs had been stolen from schools.

The total estimated value of the items stolen across Suffolk at the time was in excess of £150,000.

At the time the men were charged police stressed said the accusation related to burglaries over a nine-month period, and not the 16-month timescale when more than 300 computer-related items were stolen.

A third defendant has yet to enter a plea to conspiracy to commit burglary.

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