Car thieves jailed after breaking into homes for keys

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TWO men have received lengthy prison sentences for their part in a series of house burglaries to steal cars worth more than £300,000.

Lee Mills, 38, and his nephew Scott Shakeshaft, 27, were involved in a conspiracy to break into homes in Sheffield and Rotherham to steal car keys.

The raiders forced locks on uPVC patio doors during the night, before taking the car keys from inside and then stealing cars as their owners slept.

Parts from some of the cars were later found at a breaker’s yard in Bradford raided by West Yorkshire Police.

Mills and Shakeshaft’s own cars were eventually placed at the burglary scenes by police using the vehicle number recognition system and their mobile phone calls.

They admitted conspiring to commit burglary over a three-month period in 2011 when 18 vehicles were stolen.

Mike Smith, prosecuting, told Sheffield Crown Court that the cars were worth £307,000 and only two had been recovered, leaving a loss of £225,000.

He said the Crown suspected a “great number” made their way to the Bradford dismantlers.

Ironically, Mills was stopped by police near the first break-in on Stumperlowe View, Sheffield, on August 9, 2011, but after questioning he was released without charge. A BMW X5 was stolen from the address.

Three cars were stolen within a few hours on October 23 that year and there were four cars stolen within a few hours on November 5.

Mills, of Normancroft Way, Castlebeck, and Shakeshaft, of Harthill Road, Woodthorpe, both Sheffield, were arrested on December 1, 2011, but both refused to speak to police. They both eventually admitted conspiracy to commit burglary between August 1, 2011, and December 1, 2011.

Judge Robert Moore jailed Mills for seven-and-a-half years and Shakeshaft for four years.

He told Mills: “It is clear from the vehicle registration evidence and mobile telephone records that you were remarkably close to the 18 offences over 14 weeks. You were close to the supervision and co-ordination. It was at night, carefully planned and carried out when the owners were in bed.”

He said Shakeshaft had been brought in by others and his involvement covered seven of the burglaries.