A GANG who were part of a nationwide scam to steal high value excavators and plant equipment have been handed prison sentences totalling almost 12 years.
Businesses hit by the complex conspiracy, which involved the direct theft of equipment and the use of companies to hire valuable machinery, included firms in Calderdale.
It is estimated to have cost businesses in excess of £2 million over a two-year period.
Although some of the stolen items were recovered, Bradford Crown Court heard that other equipment had been shipped out of the country to Turkey.
Prosecutor Tom Storey said the conspiracy involved thefts from businesses in Elland, Tadcaster, Harrogate, Yeadon and Cleckheaton but the scam also reached as far as Cumbria, Gloucestershire and Wales.
Mr Storey said the 22 separate thefts involved stolen goods worth more than £1.8 million, but adding on lost hire fees the total loss figure could be in excess of £2 million.
Brighouse-based Leeds Demolition Services Ltd, Demo UK Ltd, of Bradford, Sitetec UK Ltd, of Low Moor and Demowaste Ltd, of Cleckheaton, were all used during the conspiracy, but by the time of the police investigation none of them had filed any accounts.
Peter Green, 46, of Highfield Drive, Birstall, and Mark Lambert, 46, of Amber Wharfe, Shipley, were each jailed for three years and nine months after they admitted the conspiracy to steal charge which covered the period between August 2008 and August last year.
Sharon Pearson, 39, of Capa Terrace, Odsal, also pleaded guilty to the same charge and was jailed for 18 months.
David Colley, 43, of Netherton, Huddersfield, and Matthew Wheatley, 22, of Idle, Bradford, were imprisoned for 15 months each after they admitted playing a part in the conspiracy.
Colley admitted travelling to North Yorkshire on a “reconnaissance” trip the day before a piece of machinery worth £65,000 was stolen.
Judge Jonathan Durham Hall said the conspiracy involved the creation of companies to obtain the vehicles and the businesses and individuals targeted had lost property of extreme value.
Last week, a 30-year-old Halifax man was found not guilty following a one-week trial.