A prolific gang of burglars has been jailed after breaking into homes across Kent to steal car keys and then take vehicles from driveways.

The five men targeted victims as they slept and were responsible for a spate of break-ins in areas throughout the county, as well as at properties in London.

Between 21 November and 26 November 2019, Ryan Hull and William Burton burgled four addresses during the hours of darkness in Larkfield and Maidstone.

They forced their way inside homes, before taking car keys and other personal property, leading to six cars being stolen.

Patrols located one of the stolen cars on 2 December, an Audi A3 parked in Dartford on false number plates. While in attendance, officers saw the vehicle unlock remotely, as Hull and Burton were walking towards it and they were arrested.

An investigation led to a purse from one of the burglaries being located at Hull’s home in Erith. A stolen designer jacket was also seized from Burton’s address in Dartford.

Hull’s phone was examined, which led to the discovery of a video of him sitting in one of the stolen cars. Text messages also included discussions about the thefts and enquiries linked the pair to a fifth burglary in Maidstone.

Evidence showed two further suspects were involved, George Knight and Matthew Francis. DNA belonging to Knight was recovered from the stolen Audi.

A further 29 break-ins were found to be linked to Hull, Knight, Francis and another accomplice, Sean Hart. These were carried out between 21 January and 2 April 2020. Homes were targeted in areas including included Whitstable, Canterbury, Tonbridge, Borough Green, Medway towns, Sevenoaks, and in parts of London.

Further arrests were made and all five were charged with conspiracy to commit burglary.

They pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court. On 25 January 2021:

Hull aged 27 from Erith, was jailed for five years and three months.
Knight aged 28, from Belvedere was jailed for five years and nine months.
Burton aged 28, from Dartford received a sentence of three years and ten months’ imprisonment.
Hart aged 34, from Erith was sentenced to two years in prison.
Francis aged 28, from Erith, was sentenced separately at the same court on 4 February to six years and twenty weeks in prison.

Detective Sergeant Jay Robinson, of the Chief Constable’s Crime Squad said: ‘These prolific criminals brazenly and repeatedly targeted homes as people were sleeping. Victims woke up to find intruders had entered their properties and stolen personal possessions along with their cars.

‘These offenders falsely assumed that by using false number plates on stolen cars they would avoid detection, but this arrogance was to be their downfall. Our meticulous investigation pieced together evidence to identify the perpetrators and prove the criminal conspiracy.

‘The residents of Kent can sleep easier knowing this gang is now safely residing in prison, but it is a timely reminder for householders to ensure doors are secured and ideally double-locked overnight.’

By Ed

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