A team of young burglars targeted occupied houses with desirable cars outside, breaking in during the night and taking the keys to the cars which they then stole.
And in one of the cars they took after breaking into a Rugby doctor’s home was a treasured stethoscope which had been passed down to him by his doctor father, a judge has heard.
Reece Ali, Casiim Montgomery and Amani Adams all pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to two charges of burglary and three thefts, while Kaine Wheeler admitted one burglary and two thefts.
Ali (20) of Magee Close, Rugby, a ‘third strike’ burglar who was on licence from a prison sentence at the time, was jailed for three years and nine months.
Montgomery (19) also of Magee Close, who had only been released on licence days earlier, but had indicated his guilty pleas at the first opportunity, and Adams (18) of Chester Road, Birmingham, were both sentenced to 40 months.
And Wheeler (20) of no fixed address, was jailed for 26 months by Judge Peter Cooke, who rejected a suggestion that he could be given a suspended sentence.
Prosecutor Ravi Sidhu said that Montgomery, Ali and Adams had broken into a house in Cawston, Rugby, in the early hours of May 15 while a family were asleep upstairs.
The husband got up at 6.20, and when he went out to walk the dog, he saw their £23,000 Mercedes convertible was not there.
He then found that the keys had been taken from inside the house, together with his and his wife’s wallets.
The police were informed, and an ANPR camera was found to have captured the Mercedes heading north on the M6 at 3.59am.
The following night all four defendants were involved in a burglary at a doctor’s home in Cawston, during which they took a purse containing cash and bank cards.
They also took the keys to two BMWs which they then stole from outside – and Mr Sidhu pointed out that in one of them was a stethoscope which had originally belonged to the doctor’s father, who had also been a doctor.
ANPR cameras showed the two cars in convoy heading towards Birmingham where one of them was later recovered.
The next day the police had information that the four defendants, who were all staying at Magee Close at the time, were responsible – and they were found hiding in a cupboard, trying to hold the door shut.
Officers also found gloves and balaclavas and evidence that they had been indulging in ‘substantial spending’ on clothing and trainers worth over £1,200 - purchased mainly for cash.
And on an i-phone Wheeler had filmed Montgomery driving one of the stolen BMWs before turning the camera on himself, while a clip on another phone showed Ali and Adams in the Mercedes.
Mr Sidhu said Montgomery had convictions for offences including robbery, and had only been released on licence from a 20-month sentence for violence 11 days before the first burglary.
Ali’s previous convictions included two for burglary, Wheeler had convictions for violence and theft, and Adams had been given a referral order for robbery in 2018.
Jabeen Akhtar, for Adams, said: “He is the youngest of the defendants. It’s clear he got involved with a crowd and went along. He does genuinely regret taking part in these offences.”
Arron Payne, for Ali, said: “The properties were accessed through insecure doors and windows. They did not force their way in. You will pick up from his letter just how remorseful he is.”
Andrew Jackson, for Montgomery, submitted that his record showed ‘he is not a burglar,’ and observed that, in his own words, he said he had ‘behaved like a dickhead.’
Mr Jackson commented: “He’s not an accomplished criminal, because only a dickhead films themselves on their own phone.”
Niall Skinner, for Wheeler, said he had written a letter to the doctor stressing that they had not been targeted because of who they were, but only because of the cars – and suggested he could be given a suspended sentence.
But Judge Cooke responded: “In my court you don’t break into somebody else’s home in the dead of night, with others, and walk out to anywhere other than the cells.”
Sentencing the four, he told them: “I have to deal with the four of you for your roles in visiting extreme misery and distress on two households, households targeted because they had desirable cars on the drive.
“You entered those houses at night while the occupants were present, involving a risk of terrifying encounters for them. It was only through luck that no such encounters took place.”
And Judge Cooke commented: “What a lovely thing for a father to be able to do when his son follows in his footsteps into a profession like medicine, for the doctor father to be able to pass on his own personal stethoscope to his doctor son.
“You stole that. It is utterly irreplaceable to that family – and what benefit did it confer on any of you to take it?”