Police caught raiders casing out Honiton Golf Club

PUBLISHED: 09:02 11 December 2008 | UPDATED: 22:46 15 June 2010

A gang of professional raiders targeted golf clubs throughout Devon stealing nearly £100,000 worth of equipment in four months.

A gang of professional raiders targeted golf clubs throughout Devon stealing nearly £100,000 worth of equipment in four months.

But Honiton Golf Club, which was on the raiders' hit list, was spared by sharp eyed police who spotted an empty car near the entrance and their investigation led to the arrest of three men who were circling and "casing" the clubhouse.

Exeter Crown Court heard some of the property was whisked up the M5 for disposal in Bristol but nearly £50,000 worth was sold to undercover police officers who were running a second hand shop in Torquay.

One of the ringleaders was 26 year old career criminal Dean Jefferies who was jailed for five years for the golf club conspiracy and supply of cocaine to the undercover officers.

Prosecutor David Evans said Stover Golf Club at Newton Abbot was raided twice and golf clubs and equipment worth £39,000 was snatched. Some of the property was taken to Bristol and the rest was sold to the undercover police who had set up the second hand shop South Coast Electricals in Torquay market as part of Operation Boston.

Ten days after the second Stover raid Hele Golf Club at Torquay fell victim to the raiders who got away with £10,000 worth of equipment which was sold to the undercover police.

The prosecutor said the next club on the raiders' trail of crime was Okehampton Golf Club where £20,000 worth of clubs and clothing were stolen. Once again Jefferies negotiated prices with the undercover officers in Torquay and in all he was paid £9,000 in cash for the various transactions.

The court heard the police thwarted a raid on Honiton Golf Club when they found an empty car parked near the course in the middle of the night and a sweep of the area revealed three men who had been circling the club.

Dartmouth Golf Club and the Exeter Golf and Country Club were also on the raiders' hit list and although both were cased they were not actually raided.

Mr Evans said at some of the raids the burglars were captured on closed circuit surveillance cameras but the quality was not good enough to identify individuals. Vehicles used to transport the stolen clubs and equipment were stolen shortly before the night raids and abandoned soon afterwards.

Mr Evans said on one occasion Jefferies told his undercover police contact that he had "brand new, dodgy knocked off golf clubs" and boasted in the conversation that was secretly recorded that he had "thousands of pounds worth of stolen equipment."

Within two hours of the Hele Golf Club break in Jefferies contacted the undercover officer and said 200 to 300 clubs had been stolen and gave details of brands and prices.

The prosecutor said all those involved were arrested in March this year and, apart from Jefferies, eight others had admitted various offences of burglary, handling stolen goods and theft. They will be sentenced later.

He said Jefferies was also involved in drug deals with the undercover officer where £700 worth of cocaine was sold.

Jefferies who has committed 100 offences since he was aged 13 pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle, two thefts, supplying cocaine and knowingly being concerned in the supply of cocaine.

Mitigating Rupert Taylor said Jefferies was not a sophisticated, high level criminal just thoroughly dishonest. He had now spent 258 days in custody on remand and that was the longest period he had been off drugs since he was 13. He now wanted to turn his back on his old lifestyle.

Passing sentence Judge Jeremy Griggs told Jefferies, of Teignmouth Road, Torquay: "You came down to Devon from Bristol to get away from a life of crime and obtained a skilled job as a stonemason. But when you were made redundant you soon went back to your old ways. These were commercial raids where many, many thousands of pounds worth of property was stolen. You used the money to fund an affluent lifestyle and maintain a status which you could not attain by legitimate means. There must be a substantial sentence to reflect the deliberate commercial dishonesty."

Jefferies was jailed for three and a half years for the golf club conspiracy and 18 months consecutive for the cocaine offences.

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