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Greater Manchester jewellery thieves jailed

by Mark Langshaw. Published Thu 25 Oct 2012 10:30
Guilty: Dale Fitzpatrick
Guilty: Dale Fitzpatrick

A gang of jewellery thieves who operated around Greater Manchester, stealing more than £1.8m worth of goods, has been jailed.

Greater Manchester Police's Force Robbery Unit unmasked and dismantled the group, which was using stolen cars to target high street jewelers.

The gang would typically target stores during busy trading hours when members of the public were on site, storming the premises armed with weapons such as samurai swords and crowbars and wearing balaclavas.

During one of the robberies, at the Fraser Hart Jewellers on Yorkshire Street in Rochdale on 7th July, an elderly woman who tried to intervene was threatened with a samurai sword.

Six men involved in the conspiracy are now behind bars following a Force Robbery Unit initiative dubbed Operation Exercise.

Dale Fitzpatrick, 28, of Seymour Avenue, Clayton, Paul James Smith, 26, of Devon Close, Brinnington, Stockport, Philip Clarke, 25, of Lymm Close, Bridgehall, Lewis Murkin, 26, of Daresbury Close, Bridgehall and Michael Stephen Bradbury (aka Rollings), 26, of Church View, Lymm, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and conspiracy to commit burglary at an earlier hearing.

All five have now been jailed at Minshull Street Crown Court.

Fitzpatrick was jailed for 10 years, Smith for nine years and four months, Clarke for four years, Murkin for four years and eight months and Bradbury for three years and eight months.

The conspiracy encompasses 12 separate offences of burglary and robbery.

Fitzpatrick asked for a further 49 offences to be taken into consideration, including burglaries at homes, businesses premises and theft of cars. Smith asked for a further 38 similar offences to be taken into consideration. The TICs bring the total of detected offences to more than 100.

Geoffrey Pearson, 34, of Nelstrop Road, Heaton Chapel, Stockport, was previously sentenced for his minor role in the conspiracy, and was jailed for 11 years, although this was for unconnected matters.

More than £1.8m worth of goods, including jewellery, cars and all the property stolen from the further offences that were taken into consideration, were stolen by the gang.

The conspiracy was smashed when members of the gang struck Alan Howard Hair and Beauty on Turncroft Lane, Stockport in September 2010 while it was under police surveillance.

Detective Inspector Chris Duffy, from the Force Robbery Unit, said: "These men were involved in a plot stretching at least four months to steal cars which would then be used to target high street jewellers.

"The mere fact the conspiracy involves more than 20 criminal acts shows just how determined and persistent these criminals were, and had it not been for my officers who locked them up and put them away for a long time, these men would undoubtedly be out there today committing more robberies.

"What makes it worse is that they were prepared to use weapons to frighten and intimidate innocent shopworkers into getting their hands on the jewellery. These robberies also happened in full view of members of the public and thankfully no-one was injured although one elderly woman was threatened with a Samurai sword. Make no mistake - the streets are far safer now these men are behind bars.

"For the vast majority of people, being confronted by weapon-wielding masked men is not something they ever have to experience. No-one should face this in their place of work, so today is a victory for all those shopworkers who came face-to-face with these criminals.

"I hope this case sends out a message to the criminal fraternity that no matter how long it takes, we will use all the resources at our disposal to disrupt your activities and send you to prison. We may even be watching you now, so if you are involved in this sort of criminal conspiracy, you can expect my officers to come through your door and you will be taken away in cuffs."



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