TWO men have been jailed for their part in a 15-month nationwide burglary spree – including homes in Flintshire.
Krzysztof Karmaciuk, 35, and Ryszard Elert, 37, admitted conspiracy to burgle and were told by a judge they had brought shame on the Polish people.
The gang operated from Wiltshire through North Wales, Dyfed-Powys, Gwent, West Mercia and Cheshire and netted a haul valued at more than £300,000.
Mold Crown Court heard 114 house burglaries had been committed. More than 30 properties were targeted along the A55 corridor, including unoccupied houses in Gwernaffield, Mold, Caerwys and Holywell through to Prestatyn, Bangor and Menai Bridge, during which jewellery and cash stolen.
Karmaciuk admitted 110 of the burglaries and Elert 67 between October 2010 and December 2011.
Good-quality houses in rural areas were targeted and the burglars were linked by fingerprints and DNA.
Judge Niclas Parry called it ‘serious, organised gang crime’ committed nationwide.
They travelled long distances with crowbars and other items, deliberately selecting properties in rural areas. Many were late at night, some in occupied properties.
Property stolen was high in financial value but also incalculable in terms of sentimental value. Irreplaceable heirlooms had been lost.
Judge Niclas Parry commended officers from all six police forces involved in Operation Yap for their painstaking work and the way the police forces had co-operated.
Nicholas Sefton, prosecuting, said rear windows were forced, front doors barricaded with furniture then homes were ransacked.
The court heard the two defendants, both painters and decorators, turned to crime when work dried up so they could send money home to their families in Poland.
Police caught them when they stopped a grey Saab in mid Wales.
A third man believed to have been involved managed to escape and was believed to have fled to Poland.
A fourth suspected gang member was already in jail for one burglary.
Stolen property amounted to £318,000– £130,000 in North Wales, £54,500 in Dyfed Powys, £51,000 in Gwent, £5,000 in Cheshire and £77,000 in West Mercia.
The two men would automatically be deported when they had served their sentence, the court heard.
Giles Hayes, for Karmaciuk, said he had led a law-abiding life since his arrival in the UK in 1994. But his health deteriorated, his relationship came to an end and that was a turning point in his life.
Andrew Green, for Elert, said he was tempted to turn to crime when work dried up.
DI Iestyn Davies of North Wales Police said: “The successful outcome of this operation was in no small part due to the excellent work carried out jointly with several forces all of whom worked closely together to achieve this result.”