Published: 16:00, 24 April 2014
Bungling burglars who nearly got stuck as they tried to pull their haul of cigarettes and confectionery through a West Malling newsagents’ window have been sentenced.
Stan Abbey, 29, and Ian Thomas, 35, nabbed cigarettes and tobacco worth more than £5,000 and £90 of sweets and confectionery during an overnight raid at Martin's in the High Street on January 14.
But they were brought down “due to their own stupidity” after they left fingerprints on the getaway car, nearly got stuck in the shop, and accrued parking tickets for a stolen car parked outside one of the burglars' home addresses.
Abbey, of Priestfield Road, Gillingham, and Thomas, of Wordsworth Way, Dartford arrived outside the shop just before 12.40am in a silver Saab estate.
They threw a paving slab through the door window and entered with a large builder’s-style bag.
They left the shop, struggling to fit the bag full of tobacco through the hole in the glass they made, before eventually getting into the Saab with an unknown driver and making off.
At junction three of the M2, a police patrol spotted the Saab exiting the motorway and gave chase.
They lost sight of it but later found Thomas walking in a wooded area, with a black, handmade balaclava.
Officers found the abandoned Saab, which was stolen from London and had been false number plated, close by with the bag full of cigarettes in the boot.
Enquiries with Medway Council found the Saab, whilst on false number plates, had been issued a number of parking tickets in Priestfield Road – the same road Abbey lived in.
At 4.10am the same day Abbey stole more cigarettes from the a Gillingham Co-op.
At earlier hearings, Abbey pleaded guilty to both of the Co-Op burglaries in Gillingham.
Both Abbey and Thomas also admitted burglary at Martin's Newsagents in West Malling.
At Maidstone Crown Court today Abbey was sentenced to two years and 12 weeks in prison.
Thomas given an 18-month suspended sentence for two years.
Senior investigating officer, detective sergeant Jon Faulkner of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “Abbey and Thomas were determined to make some money in the early hours of 14 January.
"The burglary in West Malling was pre-planned and involved the use of a stolen vehicle.
“But far from being cunning, they were brought down by their own stupidity and by the hard work of my investigation team.
"They left fingerprints all over the Saab, almost got stuck trying to squeeze their haul through the shattered window of Martin's Newsagents and accrued parking fines outside one of their home addresses for a stolen car.
“Then Abbey, having lost his haul from West Malling, decided to target a similar shop around the corner from his home – one he had burgled only a few weeks earlier.
Video: The moment raiders broke into the West Malling newsagent's
“The evidence secured by the investigators was overwhelming and forced these two offenders to admit their guilt.
"Today’s sentencing sends a clear message that crime does not pay in our county.”
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