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14 January 2011, 15:47 | Updated: 14 January 2011, 15:50
A gang of young burglars who targeted houses with new cars on the drive and raided the homes while the owners were asleep have all received long custodial sentences.
All 15 burglaries were committed over a seven week period in late 2009 and early 2010 and the properties were in Luton, Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard, Westoning and Caddington.
The four who were aged between 17 and 22 when the offences were committed, were thought to be part of a larger conspiracy in which 27 homes were broken into but the other burglars have not been apprehended.
Prosecutor Natalie Carter told Luton Crown Court on Thursday: "This was a campaign of night time burglaries. The defendants demonstrated no regard to the presence of the householders at the time of the attack and appear to have targeted homes with newer model cars available to steal, often two cars at a time. The householders told police of their persisting feelings of anger at the intrusion into their homes and of fear of further attacks."
She said on a couple of occasions people woke and confronted the burglars and often the method of entry was through UPVC front doors.
Mrs Carter said the gang were caught by 'fortuitous policing' and, when apprehended, mobile phone analysis put them at the scene of the crimes which were often in locations far away from their homes.
Sentencing them Judge Jeffrey Burke QC said: "This was an organised and sustained campaign and in nearly all of the houses families were sleeping at the time. You had no regard for the trauma and distress that burglary brings."
Before the court were Daniel Towers, 20 of Kimberley Close, Luton, Ashley Wright, 18 of Meadow Way, Leighton Buzzard and Taylor Oddboy, 18 of Purcell Road, Luton who all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle. They were all sentenced to four years in custody.
Towers admitted involvement in nine burglaries, Wright in eight and Oddboy in five and handling property stolen in another.
Also in the dock was Lloyd Frater, 23, of Lancotbury Close, Totternhoe who pleaded guilty to the same charge admitting involvement in eight of the burglaries. But he was also before the court for an aggravated burglary in Linden Road, Dunstable on Jan 28 last year in which a man was attacked in his bedroom by three men in balaclavas. Frater was armed with a baseball bat and struck the victim, before they stole cash they found in a safe.
His two co defendants in that case had been sentenced previously to indeterminate sentences for public protection.
Frater was given an indeterminate sentence for public protection and must serve a minimum of five years before being able to apply for parole.