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16 August 2012, 17:08 | Updated: 16 August 2012, 17:12
Five burglars who travelled across East Anglia like a “plague of locusts” targeting dozens of homes as an organised group have been jailed for a total of 28-and-a-half years.
The group, from Latvia, were based in Wisbech and targeted homes of the elderly in Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, stealing mainly cash and jewellery.
A series of burglaries across the King’s Lynn and West Norfolk area prompted increased police patrols and in September 2011 the defendants were all arrested on suspicion of burglary in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.
The arrests triggered the start of a lengthy investigation led by detectives in Norfolk with support from the bordering forces investigating a number of burglaries committed across the four counties which had been linked due to the suspects using a particular MO.
Following close work with the Crown Prosecution Service, Serious and Complex Case Unit, eventually lead to all suspects being charged.
Two defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle and were sentenced yesterday at Norwich Crown Court. Genadj Rakitsky, 20 and of Milner Road, Wisbech, was sentenced to three years imprisonment and Mihails Sirokovs, 25 and also of Milner Road, Wisbech, was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
Following a two-and-a-half week trial at Norwich Crown Court which concluded on Wednesday 25 July two of the defendants were found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to burgle between June and September 2011.
Oscar Beitans, 25 and of Victoria Road, Wisbech, was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment while Jurijs Kazacoks, 23 and of Syralense, King’s Lynn, was jailed for seven years.
Artur Skrabo, 18 and of no fixed address, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to one count of burglary relating to an incident in September 2011 at Windsor Rise in Hunstanton and one count of attempted burglary in connection with an incident at Lynn Road, Snettisham. He was sentenced to a total of 18 months imprisonment on 4 July.
Investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Sally Money from King’s Lynn CID, said: “This was a challenging investigation with offences spreading across four counties. The group caused great inconvenience and distress to their victims, with the majority being elderly.
“This outcome proves that we are determined to target organised criminals and I hope this will act as a deterrent to others.”
Detective Inspector Stuart Chapman, senior investigating officer, added: “These men targeted homes as an organised group. Their actions can only be described as despicable for the misery and upset they have caused across the region.
“I would like to thank my colleagues in Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Suffolk and the Crown Prosecution Service, Serious and Complex case unit who have supported and worked with us throughout this investigation to ensure some justice has been done to the victims of these crimes. “
During the case Judge Nicholas Coleman said it had been impossible to do justice to the misery the men had caused and likened the pattern of their criminal behaviour to that of a “plague of locusts”.
Sentencing Beitans and Kazacoks, Judge Coleman said: “You are both from Latvia. Your conduct and that of your friends who have admitted their guilt has in my judgement cast a dark shadow over the reputation of the people of Latvia, who are good, honest citizens who come to this country genuinely intending to better themselves.”
A sixth suspect charged with offences is due to stand trial in December.