Burglary gang who targeted 50 homes and hid ill-gotten gains in pillow cases jailed for 16 years

The Oldham-based gang targeted properties across Lancashire and Cheshire including a 99-year-old woman and a family who were at a funeral

An Oldham-based gang who burgled more than 50 homes across Cheshire and Lancashire have been jailed for more than 16 years.

Peter Clarke, James McMillan and Garry Dunkerley ‘ransacked’ houses over a four-month period and hid their ill-gotten gains inside pillow cases taken from their victims’ beds.

The gang broke in through rear doors and conservatories stealing ‘vast amounts’ of cash and jewellery, with either ‘high monetary or sentimental value’.

Their eldest victim was a 99-year-old woman from Nelson who lost two platinum diamond rings and a half-sovereign gold necklace.

Another family in Fence, Lancashire, had their £12,000 Toyota stolen while they were out at a funeral.

McMillan, 29, of Spring Street, Oldham, Dunkerley, 43, of Heron Street, Oldham and Peter Clarke, 27, of HMP Forest Bank all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary at Burnley Crown Court.

McMillan and Dunkerley were both jailed for six years and Clarke was jailed for four years and eight months.

The court heard how Clarke had previously been sentenced for two years and four months last year for two other house burglaries with 30 others being taken into account.

Jonathan Dickinson, prosecuting, told the court how father-of-three Clarke was arrested in December 2013 following a burglary in Alsager.

Subsequent telephone analysis showed Dunkerley, and another man still wanted by police, were in the area at the time and also on other dates ‘corresponding with further burglaries’.

In January 2014 they targeted homes in Macclesfield, Wilmslow, Poynton and Knutsford.

The court heard how, following the arrest of all three men, the ‘telephone jigsaw evidence became complete’ and information was passed to Lancashire Police.

Officers were able to link the gang to 50 burglaries across Lancashire using mobile phone and ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) evidence.

Three of the burglaries in November 2013 involved pensioners in their 70s and during one incident in Barrowford, £8,500 of jewellery and £1,500 cash were stolen.

David Farley, defending McMillan, said he couldn’t find any paid work, got into debt using a loan shark and ‘acted out of desperation’.

Vanessa Thomson, defending Clarke, said he needed to pay of ‘drug debts’.

Manchester Evening News

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