Gang jailed for machines theft

A BIRSTALL man has been jailed for his part in the theft of more than £1.5m of plant machinery.

Peter John Green, who lives in Highfield Drive, was part of a five-strong gang who were convicted of conspiring to steal high value construction and demolition plant equipment between August 1 2008 and August 31 2010.

The charge includes 22 separate offences of theft.

The conspiracy was targeted at 14 counties across England and Wales including Yorkshire, Gloucestershire, Merseyside, Derbyshire and North Wales. Machinery was even traced to Iraq, Turkey, Ireland and Portugal.

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Green, 46, was sentenced to three years and nine months behind bars after pleading guilty at a pre-trial hearing on July 6.

Also jailed were Mark John Lambert, 46 of Amber Wharfe, Bradford, for three years nine months; Sharon Pearson, 39, of Capa Terrace, Bradford, for 18 months; Matthew Wheatley, 22 of Mark Close, Bradford, for 15 months; and David Colley, 43 of Netherton, Huddersfield, for 15 months.

Earlier a 30-year-old Halifax man was found not guilty following a one-week trial.

After the sentencing at Bradford Crown Court last Wednesday, Det Sgt Paul Greenwood from West Yorkshire Police’s crime division said the gang had two methods of stealing the equipment.

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He said sometimes they would identify a piece of machinery, break into the yard, load it onto a wagon and then steal it. In other offences, the thieves had set up three companies, including one in Cleckheaton, which they used to contact legitimate plant hire companies to hire their equipment but never return it

The majority of the machinery was recovered.

Det Sgt Greenwood said: “It was a complex investigation and we are delighted with the sentences given.

“By stealing the machinery, these people were ruining the livelihoods of their victims.”

Some machinery is yet to be recovered and police are urging anyone with information about the equipment, or any others that may have been stolen, to contact them on 0845 6060606.