Drug addict jailed for his role in 'professional' thefts of high performance cars and sentimental jewellery

A debt-ridden drug addict who admitted handling high performance vehicles and sentimental jewellery stolen in professional house burglaries in the Wharfe Valley and North Leeds has been jailed for 42 months.

Bradford Crown Court heard how 23-year-old Luke Lanham was involved with others in a spree of offending last August after he had built up a £1,000 drugs debt through his cocaine addiction.

Prosecutor Chloe Hudson submitted that the burglaries had “the hallmarks of professionalism” because the targeted properties were secluded and in affluent areas.

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On August 8 last year an Audi SQ5 vehicle was stolen from outside an Ilkley home while the owners were away on holiday and three days later Lanham was caught on CCTV footage at a service station in Menston filling the vehicle up with petrol.

Luke Lanham was jailed at Bradford Crown Court

Later that same day the car, which had “cloned” plates attached, was involved in a police pursuit in the Bradford area and Lanham and another male were seen running from the scene.

In another burglary a Porsche Boxster, which had been bought just eight weeks earlier for £42,000, was stolen from a house in Moortown, Leeds.

Miss Hudson said the Porsche was recovered with the help of a tracker device, but the keys were later found in the Audi linked to Lanham.

In the boot of Audi police officers also found a quantity of jewellery of huge sentimental value which had been stolen during a burglary at a couple’s home overlooking Otley Chevin.

Miss Hudson said the couple had lived there for more than 30 years and the stolen jewellery included a 22-carat engagement ring and wedding rings belonging to the late mother of the female householder.

Lanham, of no fixed abode, was sentenced on August 6 after he admitted handling the stolen cars and the jewellery.

He also admitted an attempted burglary which he committed in North Leeds when he was confronted by the female householder and fled the scene.

The court heard that Lanham had previous convictions for motoring offences including dangerous driving and he also admitted two charges of driving while disqualified.

At the time of the offences last summer he was still on post-release licence following a 12-week prison sentence for driving while disqualified.

Lanham was arrested at the end of August last year when he was caught behind the wheel of a Citroen car in Apperley Bridge and he had been remanded in custody ever since.

Miss Hudson confirmed that Lanham had never held a full driving licence.

Barrister Camille Morland, for Lanham, said he had been addicted to cocaine for a couple of years following a number of family bereavements.

She said he built up a large drugs debt of £1000 and threats were being made towards him.

Miss Morland said he had been asked to assist much more sophisticated offenders and she conceded that it had been group activity.

She said her client had been driving two high-value vehicles at the behest of others out of fear and wanting to repay a debt.

“He bitterly regrets this offending,” she said. “It was a mad period on any view.”

Jailing Lanham today Recorder Taryn Turner said Lanham had been acting with others who were not before the court.

“You appear before me for sentence for a raft of criminal offences all committed during what can only be described as a crimewave or spree last August,” she told Lanham.

Lanham was also banned from driving again for a total of three years and nine months.