THREE men from Yorkshire who took part in a £500,000 conspiracy to steal tractors in Lincolnshire for illegal export to Iraq have been jailed for almost 10 years.
Kirk Frost, 28, of Dunscroft, Doncaster, and his cousin, John Frost, 35, from Hull, were each jailed for four years at Lincoln Crown Court.
Family friend, Johnathan Isle, 27, from Thorne, who played a lesser role, was also sentenced to 21 months imprisonment.
Kirk Frost’s father, Terence Frost, 53, described as one of the “bosses of the operation,” was jailed for six years last month alongside fellow ringleader Asso Jabar, 31, who was sentenced to five and half years imprisonment.
Passing sentence Judge Michael Heath told the remaining three defendants: “It was a carefully planned, well organised, professional stealing of tractors for export to Iraq. The value of the stolen tractors was around £500,000.
“The theft of tractors in rural counties is a real problem, particularly so in this county of Lincolnshire.
“Asso Jabar and Terence Frost were the bosses of this operation, you three were the next level down. Nevertheless all of you played a part in what went on.”
Lincolnshire Police launched Operation Goldflake after a string of high value tractor thefts during the summer of 2010. In total, 12 tractors and one JCB were stolen during the plot for illegal export to Iraq for use in the building trade.
Luke Blackburn, prosecuting, told the court mobile phone records showed John Frost and Kirk Frost were involved in the reconnaissance and stealing of most of the tractors, including one incident at Woodthorpe Hall, near Alford.
John Frost was also present with Terence Frost and Asso Jabar when police arrived at a farm near Louth used by the gang to store the stolen tractors.
All three men fled when officers, acting on a tip-off from local farmer, Mark Pridgeon, found two stolen tractors being loaded on to a Turkish lorry at Glebe Farm, Fotherby.
Mr Blackburn said Johnathan Isle could only be linked to one of the tractor thefts at Biscathorpe Farm Yard, but he was also present at Glebe Farm.
Mobile phone records showed Terence Frost fled to his family’s seaside caravan in Chapel St Leonards, near Skegness, where he was picked up by his son, Kirk.
Mr Blackburn told the court John Frost was also present when Terence Frost had met up with Jabar several days earlier outside the Hill Top Garage in Welton-le-Wold, Lincolnshire. They were caught on CCTV by suspicious neighbour, Thomas Dixon, shortly before a Turkish registered articulated lorry arrived.
The court heard John Frost is currently serving five years imprisonment for offences, including a 42-month sentence passed at Hull Crown Court for handling three stolen tractors found at Dover.
Kirk Frost, 28, of Broadwater Drive, Dunscroft, Doncaster; Johnathan Isle, 27, of Elm Tree House, Thorne; and John Frost, 35, of Hedon Road, Hull, all admitted a charge of conspiracy to steal tractors.
Terence Frost, also of Broadwater Drive, Dunscroft, Doncaster; and Jabar, of Agbrigg Road, Wakefield, were convicted of the same charge after a two-week trial in May.
After passing sentence Judge Heath commended Mr Dixon and Mr Pridgeon for their help in bringing the gang to justice. They will each be awarded £250 from public funds.
The judge also commended Detective Sergeant Richard West for his role in the investigation.
Detective Chief Inspector Dave Wood, from Lincolnshire Police, said he hoped the convictions and sentences would reassure farmers and show the force’s commitment to fighting rural crime.
He said: “Over the last two years a team of dedicated officers has pieced together the mechanics of this organised crime enterprise.
“This investigation found that the offenders were using a Turkish haulage firm to ship these vehicles abroad, mainly to Iraq, where they were being used in the building industry.
“I hope this demonstrates to all of the farmers in Lincolnshire who suffered as a result of these crimes that the police are dedicated to tackling rural crime.”