A LEADING member of a gang involved in a conspiracy to steal transit vans in has been jailed for five years.
Leeds Crown Court heard Carl Gibson, 36, had a history of providing false number plates and said he was put under pressure by a group of travellers to get involved in the conspiracy between August 2016 and March this year.
Prosecutor, Heather Gilmore said a self-employed plasterer’s transit van containing tools worth hundreds of pounds was stolen from outside his home in School Road, Pontefract, on July 10 last year.
Gibson’s fingerprints were found on a false number plate on a Ford Transit van attached to a trailer with a stolen mini digger on it in Stourton in August 2016.
A gardener’s Ford Transit van was stolen from Parkwood Road in Beeston last September 2.
When Gibson was arrested and his home searched in November 2016 police found items used to decode vehicle keys, make false number plates and bypass vehicle tracking devices.
Gibson committed the offences while subject to an 18 month prison sentence suspended for two years imposed in April 2016 for conspiracy to steal.
Mitigating, Stephen Littlewood, said: “People from the travelling community have put pressure on him.”
Gibson, of Whitehall Court, Farnley, admitted conspiracy to steal motor vehicles between August 2016 and March 2017.
Jailing Gibson for five years, Recorder Simon Eckersley told him: “People had their entire working lives in these vans.
Detective Inspector Andy Farrell, who led the investigation, said: “Gibson was someone who played a very significant role in an organised criminal group involved in the large-scale theft of transit vans from across West Yorkshire and neighbouring areas.
“He was already serving a suspended sentence for similar offences at the time but clearly showed a complete disregard for the law and continued to offend.
“A lengthy and painstaking investigation by officers from Leeds District Crime Team uncovered conclusive evidence that linked Gibson to the offences to which he has pleaded guilty.
“The organised theft of transit vans has had a huge impact on the lives of a large number of victims. Most of the vehicles stolen belong to tradesmen and other local businesses and the theft of them significantly affects their livelihoods.
“We hope the victims will take some comfort and reassurance from seeing Gibson brought to justice and we hope the sentence he has received will send a clear deterrent message to others who involve themselves in the organised theft of vehicles.”