'Disappointment' as thieves raid £16,000 of kit from town's sports club
- Credit: Suffolk police
A town's sports club faced a "tough few months" after two thieves raided more than £16,000 of crucial equipment from a shed.
"Prolific" Shane Phillips, 25, and Tim Moyle, 26, were both jailed on Wednesday for a string of burglaries across the country, after admitting to taking more than £40,000 worth of equipment in a number of raids.
On May 4, during the first national lockdown, Phillips, of New Street in Eye, and Moyle, of Anchor Street in Lowestoft, took several items from Bungay and District Sports Association, including three mowers, an engine, a ride-on mower and diesel.
Chairman Jon Fuller, who has been involved in the club for three decades, said: "One evening overnight, at about 1am, they came over a fence and took quite a few items from our groundsman's shed.
"I think they had looked at it before because it seemed to be very organised, but luckily they have been caught and they are now suffering the consequences.
"We just feel very disappointed. Everyone involved with the club is here as a volunteer to help the community and then you have people doing things like this. There are plenty of other ways for people to make money."
While the club's on-field activities were on hold during lockdown, the consequences of the raid are still being felt.
Mr Fuller said: "We have had a couple of the mowers back, but not everything, and it is surprising how expensive these things are. It all adds up and if we want to play we need to replace these things.
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"We were insured but you never get what you feel it is worth or what it costs to replace it, so it has been a tough few months.
"We were lucky to a certain extent that we couldn't play the first half of the cricket season because of lockdown, so by the time it started we had managed to replace some of them."
The duo also targeted the cricket ground at Ingham in north Norfolk, Walsham-Le-Willows Sports Club and a business called Mowerfix Ltd in Worcestershire.
At Ipswich Crown Court on Wednesday, January 13, Phillips was jailed for 26 months, while Moyes was handed a two-year prison sentence.
Phillips also pleaded guilty to a burglary in Snape on August 19 and asked for 58 other offences, including some in Devon and Nottingham, to be taken into consideration when sentencing - 38 of which were with Moyle.
The pair admitted to targeting churches, community centres, sports grounds and schools to steal gardening tools, lawn mowers and maintenance tools, as well as food, fuel and power tools such as mini diggers and dumper trucks, all of which is believed to be worth in the region of £122,000.
Investigating office Ed Vincent of Lowestoft CID said: "I am extremely pleased with the sentence, bearing in mind their guilty pleas, and it reflects the seriousness and prolific nature of the offending and the period of time in which it occurred.
"It was a great piece of teamwork as well, in particular thanks to our police colleagues at West Mercia and had it not been for their efforts in laying the operational groundwork before their arrest, it is strongly believed the pair would have continued in their activities to commit further crimes.
"I would also like to pay tribute to the Op Converter team who travelled considerable distances and worked long days to capture as many offences in the TIC schedule as possible."
He said thanks also needed to go to Hammonds of Halesworth who helped find and store a lot of the property which was recovered.
The Operation Converter team is an initiative aimed at encouraging offenders to admit their crimes, benefiting victims and allowing the offender a fresh start upon their release from prison without being arrested for those offences at a later date.
DC Barry Simpson, from the Op Converter team, said: "It is very gratifying that the Op Converter process will have seen some closure for many of the victims they preyed on by the fact they admitted other crimes and enabled the return of much of the stolen property."