Specialist burglar hunters rack up 10,000 months in jail time
25 Jul | 12:54

The Central Burglary Team were set up in June 2015 to identify trends and patterns across Newcastle and Gateshead

A team of burglary hunters set up to target prolific offenders are celebrating achieving 10,000 months in jail time – with the risk of burglary in the region now at its the lowest since records began.

The Central Burglary Team were set up in June 2015 to identify trends and patterns across Newcastle and Gateshead in a bid to take suspects off the street.

Officers in the team review every burglary in the area to see what preventative measures could be put in place to protect residents in the area.

But they also have the important task of investigating crimes, identifying offenders and putting some of the worst thieves behind bars.

Now, the team are bringing in their third birthday in style after it emerged they had put 458 criminals put behind bars - bringing their tally of jail sentences  to 10,680 months.

The team have also secured 1,200 months in suspended sentences.

It comes as the most recent Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) showed the risk of household crime in Northumbria is the lowest since records began in 2007 - and the lowest of all forces in England and Wales.  

Superintendent Steve Barron oversees the work of the unit and paid tribute to the hard-working officers and staff who dedicated their lives to putting burglars behind bars.

He said: "Burglary is a horrendous, intrusive crime that does not only financially impact victims but also causes significant emotional trauma.

"Having someone break in to your home, a place that is supposed to be a safe haven, is something that can ruin your life.

"Taking burglars off the street has always been a priority for police but we knew that we could be a bit smarter in the way we looked at crimes.

"The Central Burglary Team was set up to look at every burglary that came in across Newcastle and Gateshead to see if there were any trends or patterns.

"We also have a list of prolific offenders and tap in to the local knowledge of neighbourhood teams to identify potential suspects.

"It means whenever a burglary is committed we can act quickly to identify the person responsible and put them before the courts.

"The level of sentences we have got as a result of this is very impressive and the headline figure of 10,000 months is testament to the work the team do.

"Perhaps more crucially, the risk of household crime like burglary is at its lowest level since 2007 and the lowest of any force in the country.

"This should reassure the public that we are doing everything we can to get ahead of these prolific offenders and make it as difficult as possible to commit crime in our region."

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, added: “It was very pleasing to see last week that we had the lowest figures in the country when it came to the risk of household crime. It shows that here in Northumbria we are getting it right.

“The Central Burglary Team have combined their knowledge and expertise with the passion to do right by victims of crime and this has translated to a number of big successes.

“Northumbria Police will continue to come up with innovative ways to keep local communities safe.”

The burglary team is led by a Detective inspector who oversees a team of two Detective Sergeants, 11 Detective Constables, two Visits Officers and two police staff.

Their sole aim is to stop burglaries from happening and arrest those responsible for committing them. Every burglary that happens in Newcastle and Gateshead gets looked at by the team.

Similar teams have also subsequently been set up in other areas of Northumbria Police as a result of the success.

Anyone who has information about burglars operating in the area can contact them by calling 101 or emailing central.intelligence@northumbria.pnn.police.uk 

Some of the notable convictions for the Central burglary Team since their formation in 2015

  • Kevin John Lawson, 27, was sentenced to 13 years in March 2018 for raiding six addresses across Newcastle in ten days, stealing £40,000 and several cars.
  • Thomas Weatherson, 30, was jailed for 10 years after committing a kidnap robbery with Lawson in which they went to an address and forced two victims to drive them around the region on their crime spree.
  • In June last year, Martin Flemming, 28, was jailed for seven years and ten months and Paul Tullin, 33, was jailed for seven years and three months after being convicted six burglaries across Newcastle and Gateshead where more than £500,000 of goods were stolen.
  • Martin Gilbert, 48, was jailed for eight years in February 2015 after raiding the homes of elderly pensioners across Newcastle. One of his victims told a court the incident left her so frightened that she couldn’t sleep in the property.
  • Terence Hughes, 55, was jailed for 10 years in January this year after he raided a house in Gateshead and led the disabled occupant round the house with a screwdriver held to her neck. He fled empty handed after being disturbed by the victim’s father but was later caught by police.
  • Terence Douglas Foster, 25, was handed a 72-month jail sentence in September 2016 after being convicted of a string of robberies across Newcastle.
  • Lee Cockburn, 40, was jailed for seven years and eight months in September last year after he forced his way into the home of an 83-year-old grandmother in Denton and oushed her to the floor in a bid to steal money. He was disturbed by a neighbour before fleeing the address empty handed.
  • Peter Todd, 39, and David Johnston, 37, were jailed in November 2017 after being convicted of three burglaries at the home as elderly, female pensioners across Gateshead. Todd was jailed for seven years and 11 months while Johnson was jailed for six years and nine months.
  • Charles Tams, 37, was jailed for 12 months in December last year after committing his 32nd burglary just 10 days after being released from prison for burglary offences. He stole £11,000 of cigarettes and hundreds of pounds worth of chocolate and cash.
  • Martin Ward, 32, Martin McDonagh, 39, and William O’Donaghue, 41 were also jailed for a total of more than 20 years after being found guilty of a burglary conspiracy that saw jewellery and gold worth more than £250,000 stolen from homes of Asian families in Newcastle. The jewellery gang were actually from Essex, Kent and London but were identified by the Burglary Team as being responsible.
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