THREE members of an organised crime gang have been ordered to pay back over £122,000 they earned by stealing and selling on almost £6 million worth of high value vehicles.


The trio were part of a fourteen-strong gang that had previously admitted to a combination of charges including conspiring to burgle, conspiring to handle stolen goods and conspiring to defraud across North Yorkshire, East Yorkshire, and Lancashire in July 2009 and across West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire between July and November 2009.


The gang broke into houses which had high value cars were parked on the driveways, stole the keys, took the cars then sold them on.


Judge Marson QC announced at Leeds Crown Court yesterday (August 31) that they had to pay back a total of £122,851.75p.


Gary Swinden, 52, of Field Drive, Barnsley had benefited by a total of £138,724.32 from the proceeds of his crimes and has a total confiscation order against him issued for £78,073.33. He has until February to pay up or face another 21 months in prison.


Victoria Laws, 41, also of Field Drive, Barnsley, was found to have benefited by £44,712.99 from the proceeds of her crimes and was ordered to pay back the same or receive a further 16 months in prison.


A third man, Matthew Holmes or Bradford, was found to have benefited by £153,634.00 from his part in the enterprise - but was only ordered to pay back £65.43 by a different judge.  A default prison sentence of seven days was attached to his order if he fails to pay back the money within one month.


Bradford based Matthew Holmes was found to be the burglary team leader who would then sell on the stolen vehicles.


Gary Swinden and his partner, Victoria Laws, were the facilitators who - through their business Zebra Studios, Eldon Street North, Barnsley - supplied high quality cloned licence plates and documentation.


Detective Chief Inspector Lisa Atkinson, Head of the North East RART, said: "These were highly organised and highly sophisticated criminals with Matthew Holmes at the helm; stealing vehicles to order.  Through the criminal cloning of licence plates and forged documentation supplied by Gary Swinden, the gang sold the stolen vehicles on in huge numbers.


“They were running an extremely lucrative business but thanks to the confiscation orders passed today, we have not only brought them to justice but stripped them of the proceeds of their crimes.


“We know that this will have a positive impact upon the communities that have been blighted by their pernicious criminality and hope this sends a strong message out to anyone engaging in similar activities:  we will continue to target and disrupt organised criminals and force them to pay back their ill-gotten gains.”