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Operation Prism nets gang who targeted businesses & mosques

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A gang who were involved in a major burglary conspiracy targeting businesses and mosques across Lancashire, have been jailed for a combined total of 22 years and six months. Individual sentences ranged from 8 month suspended to 5 year’s imprisonment

Liam Cumberland, 27, of Lytham Rd, Blackburn; Sean Cumberland, 32, of Accrington Rd, Blackburn; Carl Cumberland, 31, of Thwaites Rd, Oswaldtwistle; Daniel Darani, 31, of Douglas Place, Blackburn; Darren Jeal, 42, of Eldon Rd, Blackburn; James O’Neil, 30, of South St, Darwen and Stuart Ainsworth, 40, of Shaw St, Blackburn all appeared at Preston Crown Court yesterday after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary.

Liam Cumberland was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment; Sean Cumberland was jailed for 5 years for the burglary conspiracy and drugs offences, Darren Jeal was sentenced to 4 years for the burglary conspiracy and drug offences; Darani was given 3 years 4 months for his part in the burglaries; Carl Cumberland was sentenced to 2 years 10 months for the burglaries. O’Neil was given an 8 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months. Ainsworth’s sentence was adjourned due to ill health.

A further two men were also sentenced for their part in the series of offences; 43-year-old Shaun Lever, of Windsor Rd, Knuzden, was given a 2 year supervision order after pleading guilty to handling stolen goods and 51-year-old Ronald Straeker, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to 2yrs 3 months after pleading guilty to one burglary, one thefts and an offence of handling stolen goods.

All nine were arrested after an investigation by Eastern Divisions Target Team following a large number of burglaries at mosques, businesses and restaurants in the Blackburn, Accrington, Great Harwood, Burnley, Colne and Preston areas. The gang, who targeted the premises between February 2011 and September 2012 stole cash and goods valued at approximately £88k.

“Secret Room”

During the investigation, which was codenamed Operation Prism, officers uncovered a make-shift “secret room” containing property which had been stolen from B&M Bargains. The room, which had been constructed by creating a partition within the back bedroom, was found after police raided Carl Cumberland’s house on Thwaites Road.

Detective Sergeant Tim McDermott said: “They deliberately targeted local businesses and mosques with each gang member having a different level of involvement in these pre meditated and calculated attacks.

“The effects of their crimes go far beyond the value of the property they stole. Some of the small businesses they stole from suffered and continue to suffer severe financial difficulties. One company was forced to make 21 employees redundant as a direct result of their losses.

“Not only did they steal charity money from the mosques but they took community documents which had been left for safe keeping. We should not underestimate the impact these thefts had on our local communities who were left feeling violated.

“They did their utmost to frustrate the police investigation at every turn and today’s sentences should demonstrate our determination to support local business and communities whilst targeting criminals and bringing them to justice.”

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