Published: 19:33, 17 November 2021
| Updated: 10:48, 18 November 2021
Jim Smith and Benjamin Lee went on a crime spree that was stopped when Lee was held up by traffic while fleeing police officers.
In a spate of crimes lasting just over two weeks, the pair targeted several high value cars by breaking into properties and stealing the ignition keys.
It started on June 26, when they stole an Audi A4 parked on a driveway in Coombe Drive, Sittingbourne, replacing the number plates with a set stolen from a similar car, before driving to Iwade where they attempted to carry out another burglary.
Not satisified with a successful attempt and a failed one, then travelled to Gillingham to carry out a third crime, breaking into a house and stealing a Mercedes CLA parked outside.
Three days later, Smith and Lee stole a second CLA from a house in Minster-on-Sea, before trying to break into a BMW owner's home in the same town on July 5 and stealing another Mercedes in Sittingbourne on the night of July 11.
The following day saw the unfortunate Lee spotted driving his latest acquisition – having once again put false number plates on – by a police patrol unit.
The officers followed the car onto Lower Rainham Road where Lee noticed his trackers, driving off and initiating a chase.
The 20-year-old, of Flanagan Avenue, Queenborough, continued towards the Medway Towns at speed, driving in an extremely dangerous manner and forcing other vehicles to take evasive action to avoid a collision.
However, his attempt to escape police came to an abrupt end when he ran into a long queue of traffic in Chatham, where he was duly arrested.
Investigators from the Chief Constable’s Crime Squad identified that Smith, also 20, of Church Road, Murston was Lee’s accomplice, and he was arrested the following day.
Detectives proved the two were responsible for the multiple break-ins and theft offences, and they were both charged with conspiracy to commit burglaries.
"They showed no regard for the impact their action would have..."
Lee was also charged with dangerous driving, driving without insurance, driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence and failing to stop when required by a police officer.
The pair both pleaded guilty to the charges at Maidstone Crown Court. Yesterday, Lee was sentenced to three years and nine months, while Smith was sentenced to two years and six months.
Both will initially serve their detention in a young offender institution. Lee was also disqualified from driving for 40 months.
Detective Sergeant Richard Taylor said: "These criminals violated several homes to steal car keys whilst the owners were asleep on the premises.
"They showed no regard for the impact their actions would have on the victims and, when pursued, Lee had scant concern for the dangers he posed to other road users.
"Their detention in a young offender institution is entirely appropriate."