A 27-year-old mechanic from Otley who dismantled stolen cars valued at an estimated £100,000 at his business unit has been jailed for two years.
Oliver Firth’s criminal activities at an industrial unit in Baildon only came to an end last month after police were able to trace a stolen Range Rover Evoque which had been taken from a driveway in Silsden.
Bradford Crown Court heard on Tuesday that the £37,000 vehicle was fitted with a tracker device and six days after it was taken police found the high-value car in a partially-stripped state at Firth’s premises.
Prosecutor Martin Robertshaw said car parts such as headlights and bumpers from other vehicles were found scattered about the unit and inquiries linked them to other stolen vehicles.
Mr Robertshaw said the vehicles included a Land Rover Freelander valued at about £13,000 taken from a drive in Keighley, a £10,000 Volkswagen Golf stolen in a house burglary in Calverley, a Nissan which was stolen in Wetherby and an Audi A4, valued at £16,000, which had been taken after a burglary in Silsden.
Firth, of Ghyll Beck Drive, Otley, made immediate admissions to the police following his arrest last month and he pleaded guilty to six charges of handling stolen goods when he made his first appearance before the magistrates’ court.
His case was committed to the crown court for sentence and yesterday he asked for a further four allegations of handling stolen goods to be taken into consideration.
The court heard that Firth, who came from an impeccable family background, was employed as a mechanic at the time but he was using the unit to do work privately.
He told police he had been approached by a man who asked if he was interested in purchasing vehicles and he knew that they must have been stolen because of the low prices.
“He said he would break down the vehicles and sell the parts for cash by word of mouth or on eBay,’’ said Mr Robertshaw.
Lawyer Nigel Jamieson, for Firth, said he was incredibly ashamed of his behaviour and had made little profit from his activities.
Judge Jonathan Rose told Firth that his offending was so serious because without handlers of stolen goods there would be no thieves.
The judge highlighted the fact that some of the cars had been stolen in house burglaries and Firth’s offending had not been necessary because at the time he had a job and was earning a wage.
“That leads to the conclusion that this offending was for greed and not for need,” the judge told him.
Judge Rose said Firth would have continued his offending had the police not caught him with the help of the tracking device on the Range Rover. “You were engaged in a course of conduct that had been going on for some months and was likely to continue,” he added.