TWO prolific Black Country burglars who carried out a month-long crime spree have been given lengthy jail sentences.
Mark Toogood, of Stourbridge Road, Dudley, and Matthew Brookes, of Field Road, Princes End, Tipton, targeted a number of homes, including properties in Belbroughton and Clent, that they thought would have valuables to steal and the occupants would be out in the daytime.
Toogood was jailed for nine years and Brookes for seven-and-a-half years as Judge Robert Juckes told them: “The community is due a rest from your activities.”
Both admitted a single charge of conspiracy to commit burglary, covering a total of 19 raids in December 2012 and January 2013.
"It is difficult to calculate the sum total of misery you must have caused to the people whose houses you broke into," the judge told them at Worcester Crown Court. "Their homes have been desecrated by evil-minded invaders."
Graeme Simpson, prosecuting, said the spree involved others who were not before the courts. Toogood was the driver and their plan was to get into the houses through a rear window or patio door and away from the area as quickly as possible.
Benjamin Nicholls, for Brookes, said he had worked for six months after his last long prison sentence but had been lured back into crime by his drug habit. He now intended to go straight because he wanted to get out of the "revolving door" of being in and out of prison. He also wanted to apologise to the householders.
Lynette McClement, for Toogood, said he had returned to crime when he ran out of money following release from his last prison sentence.
Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Constable Dave Louden of West Mercia Police said the investigation was launched when Toogood was arrested for three burglaries last June.
He was found to be selling property from burglaries on free websites, and detectives analysed his phones and used data from automatic number plate recognition cameras to link him to about 38 burglaries committed across the Midlands over the previous year.
Through Toogood police were able to trace Brookes, and he could be linked to about 20 of the burglaries.
DC Louden said: “This was a very complex and in-depth case involving West Mercia and various other police forces.
“As the websites Toogood used were registered in Canada, it became an international inquiry, and we had to seek the permission of the authorities over there to access information about how he had used the internet to advertise and offload the stolen goods.
“A lot of hard work went into bringing these charges against both Toogood and Brookes, and we are very pleased with the result.”