Suffolk and Essex: Four burglars jailed for spate of store raids

FOUR burglars who raided a number of stores across Essex and Suffolk have been jailed for a combined total of 12 and a half years.

One of the men, Martin Whaley, 46, of Pegasus Way, Braintree, stole over �60,000 worth of cigarettes during 13 break-ins between October 2009 and August this year.

The three others, Duncan Rowland, 22, Peter Fabri, 32, and Andrew Last, 33, all from south-east London each carried out two burglaries.

Nine Co-op stores, a Solar store, a petrol station and other small shops were targeted with cigarettes being stolen from most of the stores.

Many of the raids involved offenders using crow bars and bolt croppers having earlier carried out recces on the shops.

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The quartet appeared at Ipswich Crown Court for sentencing yesterday having previously entered guilty pleas.

Prosecutor Rober Sadd said: “These were well-organised and professionally executed series of burglaries targeting cigarettes.

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“They involved a number of men travelling to Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk to carry out the raids specifically at small local community stores.”

Among the premises that were burgled were Kelvedon Co-op, Abbott’s store in Colchester and Brightlingsea BP petrol station.

Another Co-op just outside Ipswich suffered a break-in, while the One Stop Shop in Claydon was targeted twice within a month.

In between the Claydon burglaries another Co-Op in Sible Hedingham had cigarettes stolen from the premises.

Another of the company’s shops was raided in Rickinghall, near Diss, while Co-ops in Mile End, Colchester and Old Barrack Road, Woodbridge, were burgled.

A second burglary occurred at Rickinghall Co-op before Solar in Framlingham was raided just three weeks later.

Judge John Holt sentenced Whaley to six years in prison. Rowland, who pleaded guilty to two counts as well as dangerous driving - relating to a police chase on the A140 - was jailed for 30 months. Fabri and Last, who also admitted two burglaries, were each sentenced to two years.

Speaking after the hearing, Detective Inspector Martin Wright, said: “This is a fantastic result for not only residents in Suffolk and Essex, but also for the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit.

“We’ve put paid to this gang who caused misery to small villages and communities for several months. They will not be pursing their criminal ways for a long time to come.”

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