Serial car thieves who targeted the Cotswolds jailed

Two men who stole luxury cars worth £340,000 in a series of burglaries across Gloucestershire – and ram raided a shop and a cafe – have been jailed for a total of 15 years between them.

Matthew Jones, 26, of Overton Road, Cheltenham and Eric Pearce, 25, of Pates Avenue, Cheltenham, who sold many of the stolen BMW, Audi and VW cars in the West Midlands, pleaded guilty at Gloucester Crown Court to two charges of conspiracy to steal.

Prosecutor Nicholas Lee said Jones admitted 10 house burglaries while Pearce accepted taking part in nine. Both admitted being involved in the ram raids.

Mr Lee said all burglaries took place between September 9 and November 9 last year and the ram raids were committed on October 25.

“This was a very involved investigation as there were a number of other burglaries and thefts linked to the conspiracy and both men have had these taken into consideration as part of their guilty pleas,” he said.

The offences included a burglary in Cirencester where a VW Golf worth £33,000 was taken.

In Bourton-on-the Water a lump of concrete was used to smash a downstairs window at an unoccupied property. Jewellery, commemorative coins valued at £3,000, £2,000 in cash and an air rifle were stolen.

A video of the men celebrating the burglary was filmed on one of their phones and played to the court.

Pearce and Jones were arrested on November 9 and have been held in custody on remand ever since.

Natalie Goffe, defending Jones, said: “His offences stem from occurring a large drug debt. He tried hard not to commit further offending, but had pressure applied to him.

“He has been taking positive steps to better himself whilst in custody.”

Kate Roxburgh for Pearce said: “He had a difficult upbringing having spent some time in the care system. He is said to be doing well while in custody and is motivated to change.”

The court was told both Pearce and Jones are now both ‘enhanced prisoners’ having gained the trust of HMP Hewell.

Judge Ian Lawrie QC said: “The impact on the victims was evident by having the sanctity of their homes invaded.

“Jones stated he was acting under pressure. I do not accept this. He knew what he was doing.

“Both defendants have previously received non-custodial sentences. This clearly failed.

Turning to Jones and Pearce, the judge said: “These burglaries were inspired by the high value of the vehicles in the driveways and driven by your greed.”

The judge sentenced both to a jail term of seven-and-a-half years and ordered them to pay a victim surcharge of £190.

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