Burglars who targeted Raheem Sterling and stole £550,000 from rich and famous jailed for 22 years

BURGLARS who targeted the home of England ace Raheem Sterling and stole £550,000 from the rich and famous were today jailed.

Vincent Ball, 52, John Barlow, 58, and Thomas Mee, 42, would have netted over double that amount had they not accidentally dropped a half-a-million-pound haul of luxury watches while making a quick getaway.

They left brands including Rolex, Omega, Cartier and Breitling Bentley on the lawn of Bury FC club owner Stephen Dale after raiding the property in Prestbury, Cheshire.

They were chased by Mr Dale’s son and left with only a £10 note.

The gang were described as “utterly shameful” by a judge after a court heard they targeted swanky areas of Cheshire, Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire, Buckinghamshire and Warwickshire.

The trio, all of Liverpool, Merseyside, snatched gems, watches and handbags from 14 homes across the UK in autumn 2018.

After targeting the home of Manchester City star Raheem in Goostrey, Cheshire, on November 4, 2018, the gang fled with nothing when alarms scared them off.

Ten days later the trio targeted the Horsenden Manor home in Buckinghamshire owned by Jamiroquai singer Jay Kay.

A housekeeper for the star noticed a window open and a camera missing.

Simon Parry, prosecuting, told the court how they used fake number plates and had “burglary kits” so they could make a quick getaway.

They included balaclavas, binoculars, torches, crowbars, walkie talkies and disposable gloves.

Their main method of entry in houses was to use a ladder to break into the master bedroom.

Jailing them, Judge Steven Everett said: “You never had any feelings for your victims.

“These people were chosen because they had nice homes with things of value to steal.

“None of you gave a thought for their feelings.

“You were driven by sheer greed and what you did was utterly shameful.”

While the gang was rumbled at Raheem and Jay’s home, others weren’t so lucky.

One householder in Barnby Moor, Notts, lost £114,000-worth of watches and jewellery.

Another in Willaston, Cheshire, lost £146,000-worth of jewellery and handbags and a man in Mere, Cheshire, lost £155,000 in jewellery and cash.

Among the other victims were John Radford, chairman of Mansfield Town FC.


In less than a year between November 2018 and October 2019 their haul came to well over £515,000.

Judge Everett added: “Just because your victims are rich and famous does not mean they do not have feelings like anyone else.

“They are decent, hard-working people whose property you targeted. You go into their private domain and you steal not just their property but their memories, memories which you treated as just trinkets to sell.

“Human beings are sensitive creatures and you stole their feelings as well as their property.

“These were sophisticated crimes using carefully chosen false number plates and burglary kits that included balaclavas.

“Imagine the affect a gang of masked men would have on these families? Even watching it back on CCTV would be alarming for them.

“They were chosen as good targets for high returns which netted you just short of £516,000 none of which has been recovered. If you had not dropped the watches it would have been over £1 million.

“These were what I would call crimes of envy, stealing from people with lots of money.”

All three admitted conspiracy to burgle.

Mee, who the judge described as “at the top of the tree”, was jailed for eight years and seven months and a further five years to run concurrently for handling stolen goods to which he pleaded guilty,

Barlow, who was described as a “career criminal”, was jailed for seven and a half years while Ball, who acted as the getaway driver in seven of the jobs, got six years and nine months.

A spokesman for Cheshire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit said: “Ball, Barlow and Mee are all members of a sophisticated organised crime gang.

“They showed an extreme level of forensic and digital awareness when committing the offences.

“A significant level of planning and preparation went into each burglary, with the trio travelling hundreds of miles to commit the offences and specifically targeting the homes of high profile businessmen and women, footballers and celebrities.

“While the majority of these incidents occurred when the victims were out, some burglaries took place while they were at home.

“To be subjected to such an ordeal must be absolutely terrifying.

“I hope that this case acts as a warning to anyone who is planning on travelling to Cheshire to commit crimes. Our message to them is ‘don’t make a wasted journey’.”

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