Thieves stole cars as owners slept

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Two men involved in a plot to break into homes across South Yorkshire to steal keys to cars worth hundreds of thousands of pounds have been jailed.

Lee Mills, aged 38, and his nephew, 27-year-old Scott Shakeshaft, were involved in a conspiracy to break into homes in Sheffield and Rotherham to steal car keys, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

Raiders forced locks on patio doors in the middle of the night, taking keys and stealing cars from driveways or garages as their owners slept.

Parts from some of the cars were later found at a breaker’s yard in Bradford.

Mills and Shakeshaft’s own cars were placed at burglaries by police using vehicle number plate recognition systems and mobile phone call records.

They admitted conspiring to commit burglaries over three months in 2011, when 18 vehicles were stolen.

Mike Smith, prosecuting, said the cars were worth £307,000 and only two had been recovered.

Mills was stopped in his Vauxhall Zafira by police near the scene of the first break-in on Stumperlowe View, Fulwood, Sheffield, where a BMW X5 was stolen in August 2011, but was released after questioning.

Other vehicles stolen included a Seat Leon from Ecclesall and a Volkswagen Golf and a Ford Focus from Totley Rise, Totley.

Three cars were stolen within a few hours on October 23, 2011 – a Seat Leon from Chapeltown, a Skoda Fabia from Norton Lees and a Land Rover Freelander from Fulwood.

A Vauxhall Astra was stolen from Hackenthorpe on October 28 and a Vauxhall Corsa from Chapeltown.

Four cars were stolen within a few hours on November 5 – a Seat Leon from Ecclesfield, an Audi and a BMW from Brinsworth and an Audi A3 from Meadowhead.

Later, an Audi TT and a BMW 5 were taken from Bents Green and an Audi A3 from the Manor.

A Honda Civic was stolen from Brampton, a VW Golf R32 from Hackenthorpe, a Seat Leon from Chapeltown and a Vauxhall Astra from Rawmarsh.

Mills, of Normancroft Way, Castlebeck, and Shakeshaft, of Harthill Road, Woodthorpe, admitted conspiracy to commit burglary.

Andrew Smith, for Mills, said he never entered any of the houses but accepted being in the vicinity when cars were stolen after break-ins.

Jim Baird, for former steel worker Shakeshaft, said he was only involved in the conspiracy for a fortnight when he was short of money.

Judge Robert Moore said the burglaries were ‘carefully planned’.

He jailed Mills for seven-and-a-half years and Shakeshaft for four.