Three men who stole £250,000 worth of caravans and transit vans as part of an organised crime group have been jailed.
Coventry men, Seamus McDonagh, 57 of Ashorne Close; his son David Christopher McDonagh, 36 of Ashorne Close; and Seamus McGuire, 25 formally of Wappenbury Close, were sentenced to a total of 23 years on Friday.
A four year police investigation found they were working as part of an organised crime group, using 10 different cloned number plates across a string of locations.
Offences date back to 2012 when McDonagh and his son David sole 17 caravans from Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, the West Midlands and Worcestershire over nine months.
The sentencing at Warwick Crown Court follows extensive investigations which began in 2012 when two other Coventry men, Andrew Lee and James May, 34 were arrested for towing stolen caravans on the M6 - one of which was taken from a home in Fenny Compton.
They were later found to be working for the organised crime group, stealing and moving vehicles all over the region.
Officers eventually used number plate recognition cameras to trace movements and found Seamus Mcdonagh in convoy with stolen caravans along the motorway 16 times.
The group was finally caught after a transit van was stolen in Rugby in 2012. A police chase led officers back to Coventry where the stolen van was involved in a crash and abandoned.
Officers found a hat and gloves nearby which were later linked to Seamus McGuire -through a DNA match of one in a billion.
He was consequently arrested and his mobile phones were linked to similar thefts.
Once phones from group members were seized, the thieves were linked to the exact areas of each stolen caravan at the time of thefts and convoys.
The investigation took months to put together due to the amount of evidence collected and all five men were charged for conspiracy to steal and rob and dangerous driving in May 2015.
A year later, following a two and a half week trial, Seamus McDonagh, David Christopher McDonagh and Seamus McGuire were found guilty and remanded to custody.
Seamus McDonagh was sentenced to six years imprisonment for conspiracy to steal caravans, along with another conspiracy to steal from motor vehicles from 2016 committed whilst on court bail,
David Christopher McDonagh was given a nine year sentence for conspiracy to steal caravans, motor vehicles, robbery, and another conspiracy to steal from motor vehicles from 2016 committed also whilst on court bail.
Seamus McGuire was sentenced to eight years for conspiracy to steal motor vehicles and robbery.
Investigating officer, detective constable Richard Zarcone from Rugby CID said: “I am pleased with the result from Friday, which demonstrates that we take reports of vehicle theft very seriously and will deal with offenders robustly.
“I’d like to thank all of the witnesses who gave evidence in court, and the analysts who helped with the investigation, as well as the CPS.”
A witness to one of the theft, Mr Clayton Woods, said: “I am very pleased to hear of the guilty verdicts and the sentences handed down to these criminals that have been living amongst us on the Wood End estate.
“The estate is slowly becoming more diverse with the regeneration and all that is needed is for more people to come forward to report criminal behaviour.
“On the day that I witnessed one of these crimes I was one of many who witnessed what was happening yet to my knowledge I was the only one to come forward.
“The driving of Seamus Mcguire was reckless and dangerous and at any point he could of seriously injured or even killed any of the children that were playing outside that afternoon.”
*Andrew Lee and James May both entered a guilty plea at an earlier hearing, but Andrew failed to appear at court for sentencing last Friday.
There is now a warrant for his arrest for failing to surrender and a search is being c underway with West Midlands Police.