A carelessly discarded cigarette butt during a raid on a house in Leeds led to the arrest of car theft gang member Frankie Allwork.
Allwork was linked to a burglary in which over £74,000 worth of vehicles were stolen after police found his DNA on the cigarette butt he flicked into a hedge shortly before committing the offence.
Allwork and two other gang members were jailed for a total of ten years today (November 12) over a series of burglaries in Leeds in which luxury vehicles were stolen.
On December 19 last year, a £40,000 Mercedes, a £30,000 BMW and a motorbike, worth £4,000, were stolen in a burglary at a house in Churchfield Road, Rothwell.
When officers checked for CCTV in the area, they found footage showing the offenders arriving nearby in a car.
One of the group was seen to flick a lit cigarette which landed on a garden hedge.
The cigarette was recovered from the scene by officers and forensic analysis showed Allwork’s DNA profile.
In interview, he claimed to have been at home all night and refused to accept it was his DNA but later pleaded guilty to the offence in court.
CCTV footage had also shown the offenders rifling through a handbag and purse stolen in the burglary before throwing it into the same hedge.
Allwork also admitted his involvement in a burglary on January 16 this year where a £100,000 Mercedes E63 was stolen in a burglary in The Avenue, Scholes.
The car was pursued by officers and drove on the wrong side of the road towards oncoming traffic without lights at speeds of up to 120mph.
The police helicopter was involved in a search of the area after the car was abandoned and Allwork was found hiding nearby.
Other enquiries by the investigating officers brought additional evidence that resulted in a number of individual burglary and other charges being made against the group.
Acting Detective Inspector Naeem Khan, who heads Leeds District Crime Team, said: “These offenders each played a part in a very significant series of burglaries where people’s homes were targeted to steal their high-value cars while they slept.
“The victims suffered not just the material losses of property that they had worked hard to own legitimately, but also the indignity of having their homes invaded and the lasting feelings of insecurity that so often go along with that.
“It is clear from the way they bragged about their offences on social media, that these offenders had absolute contempt for their victims and did not care about the harm they were causing.
“Specialist officers carried out a thorough and comprehensive investigation that was able to clearly link each of them to the crimes that they have been convicted of.
“Their use of social media to show off about what they were doing also provided us with very useful additional evidence.
“We hope the sentences they have received will serve to reassure their victims and the wider community and also send a message to others who think they can commit offences likes this without having to face the consequences.”