Armed gang jailed for mobile phone thefts worth £300k
A gang of masked raiders armed with sledgehammers stole more than £300,000 worth of mobile phones by smashing their way into shops, a court heard.
In one burglary, a suspect grabbed a shop worker and told her "babes, put in the code" to get into the store room.
Appearing at St Albans Crown Court, Kurtis Lamptey, 26, Ajay Singh, 25, and Sonny Lockwood, 28, pleaded guilty to carrying out a number of burglaries.
"Leading members" Lamptey and Singh were both jailed for six years.
Lockwood, of Parkside, Halstead in Sevenoaks, was sentenced to five years and four months for four burglaries and the theft of vehicle number plates.
Lamptey, of Swanfield Street and Singh, of Buckhall Crescent both in Hackney, east London, admitted carrying out seven burglaries between November and December last year.
Prosecutor Ann Evans told the court the gang had mostly used sledgehammers to smash into shops but on one occasion had used a stolen BMW to drive through the front of a shop.
Most of the raids happened while the shops were closed, she said, but on two occasions staff had been locked in toilets or made to stand with their hands up.
A total value of £306,632.95 was stolen from shops in Weybridge, Hastings, Tonbridge, Orpington, Guildford, Bishop's Stortford and Galleons Reach, near London City Airport.
Judge Andrew Bright QC told the men: "You were part of a well organised team of burglars targeting phone stores in the south east of England.
"Huge numbers of telephones were stolen, mostly in hours of darkness.
"The offences were well planned. You wore balaclavas, were equipped with sledge hammers and getaway cars."