Two thieves have been jailed after they targeted and robbed pensioners of their cars near Maidstone.
Lee Smith and Patrick Stevens stole vehicles from their lone victims during separate incidents last year, which involved the use of force and a balaclava.
On 22 January 2020, Smith and Stevens initially stole a Honda Jazz belonging to a 77-year-old woman.
The victim had parked in an area off Ashford Road, Bearsted and was heading towards a gym on foot when she felt someone knock into her and snatch her bag.
Shortly after, she found the bag on the floor with the contents tipped out. When the victim went back to where she had parked, she realised she no longer had the car keys and that it had been stolen.
Just three days later, on 25 January, the stolen Honda was used to follow another victim, a 68-year-old woman who was at the wheel of an Audi and driving in Marden.
When she pulled onto her driveway the victim noticed a man near her open garage door. He had his hood up and was wearing a balaclava.
He reached into the Audi and grappled with the victim for her car keys, causing bruising to her hand. The victim was forced out of the car but attempted to press the vehicle’s horn.
The man reversed with the passenger door still open which caused it to scrape along a wall and shattered the door’s glass.
Neighbours then saw the Audi being driven away erratically, with the stolen Honda in convoy.
Around 15 minutes later, officers were in a marked police vehicle when the stolen Audi appeared, speeding towards them.
It collided with the front of the police vehicle causing both cars to stop and trapping one of the officers inside.
Two men were seen to flee into a field and police backup arrived to carry out a search of the area.
Officers located a discarded balaclava. The Honda stolen in the first robbery was found abandoned in a field off Stilebridge Lane, Linton.
The balaclava was sent for fast-track forensic analysis, which led to the identification of DNA matching Lee Smith. Forensic evidence also linked him to the Honda’s steering wheel and just days later he was arrested.
Smith’s mobile phone was seized and found to contain images linking both men to the first robbery. The phone had also been used to search for media articles relating to the crimes.
Inside the damaged and abandoned Audi, DNA was recovered from a sports bottle which also conclusively linked Patrick Stevens to the offences.
At Maidstone Crown Court, Smith (left image) aged 18, and Stevens, 19, from Maidstone both pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery.
On Wednesday 10 November 2021, Smith was sentenced to 20 months’ imprisonment at a young offender institution.
Stevens, who had also admitted a charge of possessing cannabis, was jailed for two years.
PC Lily Mackay of West Kent CID said: ‘Smith and Stevens callously targeted older women who they thought would be easy pickings. Their actions will have caused considerable fear and distress, in particular to the second victim who, faced with a man on her property wearing a balaclava, made brave attempts to resist his aggressive actions. ‘These cowardly offences will no doubt have a profound and lasting impact on these victims and both men are quite rightly now facing prison sentences.’