THREE men have appeared in court charged with stealing cars while owners left them to warm up during the winter months.
Andra Hoyland (28), of Northampton Road, Broughton, Del Swane (49), of Thirlmere Close, Kettering, and Richard Loveridge, of no fixed abode, are accused of taking Land Rover Defenders from homes in Harborough and north Northamptonshire in December 2010.
Hoyland and Loveridge pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to steal at Northampton Crown Court on Monday. Hoyland is already serving seven-and-a-half years in prison and Loveridge six years for the kidnap and robbery of the manager of Bookers cash and carry in Grantham, Lincolnshire, who was threatened with a knife and forced to open up the premises.
But Swane, who recently started work at the Weetabix factory in Burton Latimer, entered a plea of not guilty to the conspiracy to steal charge and will face a trial.
The thefts were allegedly part of a large stolen car ring orchestrated by four people in Birmingham. Martin Warren, his son Jason, his wife Jacqueline Neal and her son Christopher have been charged with offences including converting and concealing stolen property.
Prosecutor John Lloyd-Jones said: “Mr Hoyland, working with others including Del Swane, stole Land Rover Defenders in Market Harborough, north Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, from under their owners’ noses.”
Mr Lloyd-Jones said the vehicles were taken when motorists left their cars to defrost.
The Land Rovers were dismantled at an industrial state in Birmingham and the parts were sold on using the company names The Reconditioning Centre and Autocraft 4x4.
The prosecution said the operation was headed by Martin Warren with help from his son and Christopher Neal.
Cash in the region of £1m was allegedly deposited in Mrs Neal’s bank account and not declared to the tax man.
The Warrens and the Neals pleaded not guilty to 11 counts on the indictment.
The case was adjourned for a trial on a date to be confirmed.