White van tour of crime ends with jail for pair

Gazette Series: White van tour of crime ends with jail for pair White van tour of crime ends with jail for pair

TWO ‘white van men' who toured Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire stealing tools and machinery from garages, outbuildings and industrial parks have been jailed.

At Gloucester crown court Charles Brazil, 30, and Christopher Smith, also 30, both of Sandhurst Lane, Gloucester admitted four burglaries, an attempted burglary and a theft and asked for eight other offences to be considered.

Brazil was sentenced to sixteen months jail 16 while Smith, who also pleaded guilty to driving while disqualified, was given a 2 year sentence.

Judge Jamie Tabor QC told the pair "You both stole a large quantity of property, valued at roughly £25,000 "The picture that clearly emerges from the evidence is that you both drove around a large area that included Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire looking for a property to steal.

"It is no surprise that the public are so cagey of men seen driving white vans in a quiet rural areas.

"These offences are prevalent in this county and cause distress and concern far and above the value of the property actually stolen.

"The loss of property to farms in Gloucestershire through offences of this nature is remarkably high. Householders too suffer regularly from attacks of this nature.

"There is no doubt that these trips were well-planned and deliberately targeted. They were persistent and over a very considerable period of time. "

The judge said Smith had been convicted of similar offences on many occasions in the past.

"Imprisonment does not seem to have deterred you and the only conclusion that I can reach from that is that this is a very lucrative trade indeed," said the judge.

"It has to stop. The public are fed up with people wandering around the county in white vans breaking into whatever they can find and stealing machinery."

He was able to give a shorter sentence to Brazil because he did not have as bad a record as Smith and had not been to jail before, he said.

"I make it quite plain that if either of you appear at Gloucester Crown Court again for offences of this nature you will receive absolutely no mercy at all," the judge told them.

"If either of you are seeing driving around stealing in this manner in Gloucestershire no mercy whatsoever will be shown to you on the next occasion."

The court was told that tools, copper, plant machinery, vehicle batteries and industrial mowers were amongst items the pair stole from rural areas across the county.

Properties in Gossington, Deerhurst, Cleeve Hill, Colethrop and Edge were targeted between August and November last year but offences taken into consideration included a theft from an industrial estate in Ross-on-Wye and burglaries at a farm in Beaversbrook and a business in Avonmouth.

At one break-in an empty cigarette packet discarded at the scene was forensically analysed and linked to Smith while a fingerprint recovered at another burglary proved to be Brazil's.

An image taken from an Automatic Number Plate Recognition camera showing what the men were wearing was also used to establish they had been at the scene of one of the offences.

PC Gav Davis, of Gloucestershire police Crime Operations Team, said: "Our officers showed great dedication and attention to detail to gather the evidence in this case, so much so that Brazil and Smith pleaded guilty the charges against them.

"The pair systematically targeted properties in rural border areas because they thought they were vulnerable and would get away with it. We've proved them wrong.

"I'm pleased for the victims, all of whom had been left distressed and very out of pocket by these men's actions and I hope it shows everyone that we can and will go after thieves and burglars who travel around our county and try to exploit our borders."

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