A prolific gang of car thieves left a handwritten note at the home of one of their victims thanking them for the "free stuff" and signing off "the Midnight Removals".
The burglary was one of 39 committed by two organised crime gangs who stole luxury cars from driveways in upmarket districts in Greater Manchester and Cheshire.
The crime spree took place between March 2018 and February this year.The gangs worked on an "industrial scale" and took only high-value vehicles, including Audis, Mercedes, and BMWs.
Homes in Prestbury, Wilmslow, and Stockport were selected by the crooks.Families were left terrified as they broke into their homes to get keys.But now eight men have been jailed after a joint operation between GMP and Cheshire Police.
Between September and November 2018 one group – which included Dale Higgins, Reece Goodall, Harry Mulgrew, Matthew Harrop, Dale Driver and Reece McCracken, committed 13 burglaries and stole 15 vehicles at a value of £347,000.
The other group – which included Kurtis Rowe, Robson McCabe and Higgins - committed 11 burglaries in Prestbury and Wilmslow as well as 11 in Stockport.
Higgins, who was in both teams, was also convicted of possessing a firearm.The four men stole over 12 cars and replaced the registrations plates using specialist equipment, which was later seized by officers during their arrests.
At one address in Wilmslow which was broken into, the men left a handwritten note which read: “Thanks for the free stuff, yours sincerely the “Midnight Removals”.
This was after stealing numerous items of high value jewellery, including a men’s Omega watch, several items of ladies jewellery and a brown Hugo Boss bag.
The men broke into the homes of their victims by either snapping the locks of doors or smashing window panes. At one address they used an extendable washing line pole to fish for the keys of a Mitsubishi Outlander from the kitchen before stealing the vehicle.
Police were able to identify the burglars using CCTV footage and tracing phone calls and text message conversations, which showed how the men targeted properties and carried out the burglaries.
Detective Constable Rob Shakespeare of the Stockport division said:
The investigation encompassed 39 burglary offences by two organised criminal teams working on a massive and industrial scale. They targeted high value vehicles for sale to third parties giving no thought to the impact they had on families whose house they entered and property they stole.
The following sentences were given at Manchester Crown Court:Reece Goodall , 24, of Carnforth Road, Heaton Chapel, Stockport was sentenced to 5 years 6 months after being found guilty of 17 counts of burglary.
Dale Higgins , 24, of Elizabeth House, Didsbury Road, Heaton Mersey, Stockport was sentenced to 7 years and 1 month after being found guilty of nine counts of burglary and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.Kurtis Rowe , 22, of Astbury Crescent, Adswood, Stockport was sentenced to 5 years after being found guilty of 22 counts of burglary.
Robson McCabe , 23, of Chelford Grove, Adswood, Stockport was sentenced to 4 years and 6 months after being found guilty of 9 counts of burglary.
Harry Mulgrew , 25, of Jennings Street, Edgeley, Stockport, was sentenced to 3 years after being found guilty of six counts of burglary and possession of CS gas.
Reece McCracken , 20, of Bosley Road, Cheadle Heath, Stockport was sentenced to two years after being found guilty of five counts of burglary.
Dale Driver , 26, of Shayfield Drive, Manchester was sentenced to 2 years and 8 months after being found guilty of one burglary.
Matthew Harrop, 24, of Norcross Close, Offerton, Stockport, was sentenced to 2 years after being found guilty of three counts of burglary.