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Four men escape jail sentences over supermarket ram-raids

Maidstone Crown Court
Maidstone Crown Court

By Keith Hunt

Four men have escaped jail sentences over their involvement in ram-raids on supermarkets in which cigarettes were stolen and thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused.

A judge told repeat offender Peter Beale he was dealing with him in "an unusually lenient way" after receiving good reports about his conduct since the offences were committed.

Maidstone Crown Court heard stolen cars were used to raid Co-op stores in the Sittingbourne and Faversham areas.

Edmund Fowler, prosecuting, said there was a failed attempt at the Co-op in London Road, Teynham, on November 24 last year. A Vauxhall car was reversed into the shop front, smashing the window. The thieves were unable to force open a locked cigarettes cabinet but almost £6,000 worth of damage was caused.

About 10 minutes later, the same car was used to break into a Co-op in Gadby Road, Sittingbourne. Cigarettes worth more than £3,000 were stolen and more than £7,000 of damage was caused. The car was abandoned in Milton Regis.

Mr Fowler said police identified other vulnerable stores and placed a tracking device in a cigarette packet at a Co-op in Forbes Road, Faversham.

The store was ram-raided on December 7 using another stolen car. The thieves scooped more than £2,000 worth of cigarettes into a sheet and made off. The haul included the packet containing the tracking device.

Officers followed the signal to Holland Road, Chatham, and found the device outside an off-licence called Select and Save, run by brothers Keyur and Piyush Patel.

Keyur Patel was loading a box containing £2,000 worth of cigarettes into a car registered to Matthew Groves.

Beale, of Coldharbour Lane, Kemsley, admitted two charges of burglary and one of attempted burglary.

Groves, of Berridge Road, Sheerness, Keyur Patel, 44, of Ryeglass Close, Chatham, and Piyush Patel, 55, of Aldington Close, Chatham, admitted handling stolen goods.

Beale, 29, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years with supervision and 200 hours unpaid work and a curfew for six months.

Groves, 32, was given six months suspended for two years, 200 hours unpaid work and a curfew for three months.

The Patels were both given community orders with 150 hours unpaid work and ordered to each pay £1,000 compensation.

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