Ex-footballer from Chile jailed for Cheshire 'Golden Triangle' thefts
An ex-footballer who flew from Chile to break into houses in an area popular with Premier League stars after he fell "on hard times" has been jailed.
Nicolas Carrasco Oviedo, his brother Alexis and fellow Chilean Joel Ureta broke into seven homes in Cheshire's so-called "Golden Triangle" in January, Chester Crown Court heard.
The trio took items worth £106,000.
Jailing them, Judge Steven Everett said they had been part of "a very sophisticated plan" to target the area.
The court heard they began targeting the houses in Wilmslow, Knutsford, Prestbury and Alderley Edge shortly after arriving in the UK, using a car hired from Manchester Airport and staying in a hotel in nearby Sale under false names.
The break-ins saw them take cufflinks and a watch from a neighbour of former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and jewellery worth £10,000 from a 75-year-old widow.
However, the car was spotted as it left the burglary on 15 January and police later stopped the men in Manchester, finding jewellery and a balaclava in the vehicle.
Frances Willmott, prosecuting, said analysis of Nicolas Oviedo's phone revealed a message stating that they would take some of the haul to "the Romanians" to sell for money.
The court heard the 26-year-old, who had played football professionally in Chile, "clearly had fallen on hard times" and all three men were remorseful.
However, the hearing was told Chileans travelling to the UK in winter to burgle houses was part of a "national pattern of offending" which saw money and valuables posted back to South America.
The defendants each pleaded guilty to seven counts of burglary.
Oviedo, who had no previous convictions, was sentenced to four years, while his brother Alexis, 25, and co-defendant Ureta, 42, who served sentences in Chile for robbery and burglary, were each jailed for four years eight months.
Judge Everett said they "must have had ready-made contacts" in the UK to help them dispose of the stolen goods and he was in "no doubt that you chose your victims and their houses very carefully".
Ordering the three to be deported upon completion of their time in prison, he added that their sentences would serve as a warning to others.
In June, two other Chilean nationals who targeted houses in the area, including the home of former Manchester United goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszcazak, were jailed at the same court.