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Organised gang which preyed on isolated farms is jailed

A criminal gang which preyed on isolated farms and stole equipment and vehicles worth more than £280,000 has been jailed for 16 years.


Olivia   Midgley

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Olivia   Midgley
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Daniel Small senior, Daniel Small junior, James Small (L-R)
Daniel Small senior, Daniel Small junior, James Small (L-R)

Daniel Small and his two sons operated as a family business and drew in friends and neighbours to help them get rid of the Land Rovers, tractors and other farm machinery they stole.

 

The two sons James and Daniel carried out the 31 raids, stealing £281,470 worth of vehicles and tools in a seven month spree which only ended when they were tracked down as part of a major police investigation.

 

The judge at Exeter Crown Court told them their thefts were organised and directed against a farming community in which many businesses were struggling to survive.

 

Overnight raids

 

They normally struck overnight and the raids spanned an area from East Cornwall to Plymouth, North and West Devon, Teignbridge and the South Hams.

 

They started shortly after Daniel Small junior, was cleared of taking part in a previous series of raids on rural businesses in May 2015.

 

They carried on until a tracking device on a stolen quad bike led police to a traveller’s site near Bridgwater in January 2016.

 

Scrap yard

 

A lot of the agricultural machinery ended up at a farm in Wembury owned by a friend of the family. This ensured it was not at Small’s scrap yard nearby when police went to look for it.

 

Daniel Small senior, 60 of Linketty Lane, Plympton, denied but was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to steal.

 

James Small, 36, of Berkshire Drive, Plymouth, and Daniel Small, aged 25, of Ward Place, Plymouth, both admitted the two counts of conspiracy to steal.

 

Maurice Isaacs, 44, of The Paddocks, Woolavington Road, Puriton, denied but was found guilty of one charge of conspiracy to steal.

 

Barry Stephens, 59, of South Barton Farm, Wembury, admitted handling some of the stolen machinery.

 

Daniel Small senior was jailed for four years, James Small was jailed for five years, Daniel Small senior for four years and eight months, and Isaacs for three years.

 

Stephens was jailed for ten months, suspended for a year, and four others, who played lesser parts, received non-custodial sentences from Judge Erik Salomonsen at Exeter Crown Court.

 

Barristers representing the brothers said the thefts had not been a planned campaign but had come about when they had gone into the countryside looking for scrap metal.


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Judge: 'Isolated farms are very vulnerable to a determined gang'

Judge Erik Salomonsen told the defendants: "The police inquiry identified the thefts as the work of an organised crime group.

 

"It describes how the loss of these vehicles and equipment at an optimum time can lead to large financial losses to the farming community as well as having a psychological and mental impact on farmers.

 

"It goes without saying how important the farm economy is to Devon and Cornwall. Isolated farms are very vulnerable to a determined gang.

 

"James and Daniel Small Junior for a considerable time made it their business to look for targets before going back to steal. I do not accept that all these thefts occurred by happenstance when they were looking for scrap metal.

 

"The evidence shows they scoured the neighbourhood. Daniel Small Senior, for his part, was not visible at the burglaries but was involved in planning, organising and executing this conspiracy."

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