Six members of a ruthless Black Country car-stealing gang dubbed ‘The Grippers’ have been jailed for a total of more than 20 years.
The gang, whose nickname derived from their use of mole grips to snap door locks, were linked to dozens of car key burglaries across the region.
They struck around 30 times between March and December 2019, targeting homes in Walsall, Sandwell and Dudley, where they stole £300,000 worth of cars, cash and jewellery.
The cars they took were often driven dangerously and used to commit more crimes, sometimes displaying false number plates.
Many were recovered and returned to their owners, West Midlands Police said.
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Detectives linked the gang members to break-ins through extensive phone work – which included calls, texts and use of Facebook messenger.
Evidence also came from DNA and fingerprint exhibits, recovered clothing and tools, along with CCTV footage.
As a result, five men and a teenager were charged with conspiracy to burgle and steal.
Faced with such compelling evidence, they all pleaded guilty to various roles in the car key burglaries on June 15.
They were sentenced on Friday, September 3, with their punishments as follows:
- Jordan Timmins, aged 23, from Rutland Road, Wednesbury, was sentenced to seven years in prison and was disqualified from driving for five years for conspiracy to burgle, aggregated vehicle taking and dangerous driving.
- Nathan Sutton, aged 19, from Borwick Avenue, West Bromwich, was sentenced to seven years in prison and was disqualified from driving for five years for conspiracy to burgle and dangerous driving.
- Connor Summers, aged 23, from Wyndmill Crescent, West Bromwich, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and disqualified from driving for two years for burglary, attempted burglary and dangerous driving.
- Mitchell Price, aged 20, from Bilston Road, Wednesbury, was sentenced to two years in a youth offenders institute for burglary and handling stolen goods.
- Husnain Mahmood, aged 19, from Great Bridge Street, West Bromwich was given an 18 months community order, 200 hours of unpaid work and 20 hours of rehabilitation for theft of motor vehicle and dangerous driving.
- A 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, spent 652 days in prison on remand for conspiracy to burgle.
Det Con Danny Wilson, from West Midlands Police’s force priorities team, said: “The actions of this gang wreaked havoc across the Black Country causing fear and distress to residents and misery in our communities.
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“Their actions were ruthless and left many of their victims feeling terrified in their own homes – a place which should be where they feel safest.
“It was clearly a shocking experience for them and I hope the fact the offenders have been handed these jail terms will provide some comfort.
“We’re committed to tackling those who pose a risk in our communities, and I hope this action sends a clear message – we will find those intent on a life of crime and put them before the courts.”