Roger Simmons, 34, of Meadowlands, Crawley, West Sussex, who had earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob (three offences) and conspiracy to burgle (incorporating 19 offences of residential burglary) received ten years.
Gary Cleary, 20, of Paulet Road, Camberwell, Southwark, who drove Simmons to all the crime scenes, was found guilty at trial of conspiracy to burgle (incorporating 19 offences of residential burglary), and received four years.
The conviction and sentencing of Simmons and Cleary are the result of a pro-active operation, codenamed ‘Cater’, by the Metropolitan Police Service’ (MPS) London Crime Squad into a linked series of burglaries – some of them violent – which took place across London, Surrey and Kent in 2009 and 2010.
Simmons would predominantly target properties in salubrious areas, climb through open windows on the first floor and steal property therein. He stole expensive designer jewellery and cash. His young accomplice, Cleary, would wait nearby in a getaway car. The jewellery was usually sold on through unsuspecting dealers in London’s top jewellery trading district, Hatton Garden.
Many of the victims were at home at the time the offences were committed. On three occasions Simmons threatened the home-owners with violence. At one address he threatened the victims, whilst brandishing a knife and told them "they were going to get it" if his demands were not met. While committing another offence he pushed over an elderly female victim who disturbed him after he had entered her bedroom through an open window.
In London, the duo targeted properties in Warren Cutting, Kingston; Lower Common South, Putney; Somerset Road, Wimbledon; and Canons Close and Lambolle Road in Hampstead.
Outside London, they burgled homes located in Coulsden, Chipstead, Tadworth, Leatherhead, Purley and Cobham in Surrey, and Orpington and Bromley in Kent.
The pair were arrested on 10 March last year having committed a burglary at a property near ‘Millionaires Row’; Bishops Avenue in Hampstead. Officers who searched Simmons’ house found he had invested in his own personal diamond-testing machine, a tool commonly used by professional diamond dealers.
Detective Inspector Lee Hill, of the MPS London Crime Squad, said: "These individuals were responsible for a large number of residential burglaries across London and beyond. Simmons’ propensity for violence was demonstrated at a number of these crimes. He showed no remorse for his actions.
“Today’s result demonstrates the Met’s resolve and effectiveness in tackling violent offenders, who cause harm to our communities.
“This case demonstrates the commitment of the London Crime Squad working alongside the Met’s Intelligence Bureau to tackle and dismantle criminal networks of this nature. The London Crime Squad will be relentless in its pursuit of offenders, who commit these types of offences and bring them before the judicial system."