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9 August 2013, 11:14 | Updated: 9 August 2013, 12:01
Three burglars who travelled across Norwich and South Norfolk targeting homes have been jailed for a total of more than 11 and a half years.
Dale Soames, Martin Wildey and Jamie Lowe broke into homes stealing jewellery, electrical items and wrapped Christmas presents between September 2012 and January 2013.
The trio were sentenced at Norwich Crown Court on Thursday 1st August after pleading guilty to burglary offences at an earlier hearing on 31st May.
A fourth defendant, Sean Curtis, who accepted stolen property from the group, was also sentenced after admitting four counts of receiving stolen goods.
The court heard that Wildey, Lowe and Soames were known to commit crime together and between 5th and 7th October broke into a house in Norwich Road in Brooke while the victims were away on holiday.
The group smashed a window and ransacked the address leaving belongings strewn across floors in each room. More than £12,000 worth of property including firearms, fishing rods, cash, games consoles, computer equipment and a large amount of jewellery was taken from the address with the men doing several trips between Brooke and Norwich to take it away.
In another incident, Lowe and Soames entered a property in Brick Kiln Road in Hevingham in the early hours on 20th October. They crept in through an unlocked front door as the owners slept upstairs. They took an iPad and purse from downstairs.
On 20th December they broke into a bungalow in Low Street in Wicklewood after forcing a kitchen window open while the owners were at work. A Sony TV, Xbox, Wii consoles, jewellery and £500 worth of Christmas wrapped Christmas presents was all stolen.
The men were arrested following a number of dawn-raids in the city on 30th January. Uniform and plain clothed officers carried out eight warrants as part of the pro-active policing operation. Homes were raided in Union Street, Orchard Street, Walpole Gardens, Wessex Street, Heigham Street and Somerleyton Gardens in Norwich, Milestone Close in Costessey and Newton Close in Newton St Faith.
A large amount of property was also seized during the operation, some of which has now being returned to the rightful owners.
Four people were later charged with offences in connection with the operation:
Martin Wildey, 23, of no fixed abode, was charged with three counts of burglary
Jamie Lowe, 24 and of Union Street, Norwich, was charged with three counts of burglary, fraud by false representation, and two counts of handling stolen goods.
Dale Soames, 30 and of Newton Close, Newton St Faith, was charged with three counts of burglary
Sean Curtis, 29, of Milestone Close, Norwich, was charged with four counts of receiving stolen goods in connection with incidents between 19 and 29 November 2012 and 30 January 2013.
Wildey asked for a further 26 similar offences to be taken into consideration and was jailed for four years.
Lowe, who asked for seven similar offences to be taken into consideration, was jailed for three-and-a-half years and Soames, who had 39 similar offences taken into consideration, was also jailed for three-and-a-half years.
Investigating officer, Detective Constable Craig Turner, said he was pleased to see the group behind bars where they could no longer cause misery the householders.
He said: "House burglary is an intrusive crime and to steal wrapped presents days before Christmas shows the disregard Lowe, Wildey and Soames had for their victims.
"This operation was successful in removing an extremely active crime group from the city and should serve as a clear warning to others involved in burglary and handling offences that we will take action and seek to put offenders behind bars where they belong.
"Being a victim of a burglary is extremely traumatic and the effect it can have on individuals is quite significant. We want to reduce the number of people in the city who have to experience this by locating offenders and by encouraging homeowners to take simple measures to deter potential burglars.
"Tackling burglary is a key priority for the force. We will continue with pro-active measures such as Operation Duval and we would encourage anyone with information on individuals who are carrying out these crimes or handling stolen property to report it to us immediately."
Photo: From left - Dale Soames, Martin Wildey, Jamie Lowe