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Rural crime gang members are jailed
EIGHT men who carried out hundreds of crimes to the value of £1.7 million in the Knutsford and Greater Manchester area have been brought to justice after a police operation to tackle rural crime stopped them in their tracks.
Police in Knutsford originally launched an operation to tackle plant machinery theft two years ago when a spate of thefts of plant machinery swept the rural part of eastern Cheshire.
As time went on the net widened and the operation mushroomed, with the investigation spreading to the Greater Manchester area, officers from Cheshire and Greater Manchester Police joined forces to close in on the suspects.
PC Mike Dawber, based at Knutsford Police Station, instigated the operation.
He said: “As time went on the operation progressed, with more and more evidence pointing in the direction of the same group of people. It became clear this was an organised crime gang who were stealing farming machinery and Land Rovers across the rural area.”
As a result of the investigation led by DI Nigel Groom, eight men were charged with 100 offences related to theft of machinery and conspiracy to steal and handling stolen goods.
A man from Northenden who was dealt with by Greater Manchester Police, was sentenced to 38 months in prison.
He pleaded guilty to two charges of theft and one of fraud, and asked for 13 other theft and fraud offences to be taken into account.
He had been renting plant machinery and selling them on eBay, but was caught when the owner of a leasing company became suspicious and called police.
A 41-year-old man, formerly from Wigan, pleaded guilty to 10 offences of theft and asked for a further 82 to be taken into consideration, which amounted to £1 million, while a 36-year-old, from Wythenshawe, admitted eight theft offences amounting to £280,000.
They were finally arrested by Greater Manchester Police when they were caught in the act at a premises in Woodford. They were then handed over to Cheshire Police for investigation.
On July 31, 2012, the Wigan man was sentenced to four years and four months and the Wythenshawe man was sentenced to three years.
Four further men were sentenced at Minshull Street Crown Court on Friday, January 3.
DI Groom said: “As a result of the investigation, a number of men have been put behind bars for playing their part in a crime costing hundreds of thousands of pounds to the businesses affected.
“We are pleased to see that as a result of the hard work and dedication by our officers and those in Greater Manchester, we have brought their criminality to an end, and they are now facing the consequences of their actions.”