A GANG of teenaged burglars who ransacked homes while their owners slept were locked up.
The most prolific, Lewis Hodgskin, admitted carrying out 12 burglaries between October and December last year.
But the 19-year-old also asked for a further 46 house burglaries to be taken into consideration.
Dale Searson, who was just 16 at the time of the offences, admitted being involved in the 12 burglaries and was present with Hodgskin when the two led police on a high-speed chase through Birkenhead in December 2012.
Searson, now 17, also threw a stolen laptop at the neighbour of one of his victims.
Damien Nolan, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court that the burglars targeted homes with a specific type of lock that could be bypassed if the owners had not double locked it with a key.
The thieves picked their targets with care, stealing the keys to high value cars including an Audi, BMW and Alfa Romeo while their owners lay in bed.
The gang, from Tranmere, would roll the cars down the drive away from the house before starting the engine to avoid detection.
Houses were burgled at addresses across Wirral, including in Parkside Road, Tranmere; Broadheath Avenue, Bidston; Bangor Road, Wallasey; Raeburn Avenue, Ludlow Drive, Trinity Road and Hilton Grove, Hoylake and two on Glenwood Drive, Irby.
Sentencing Hodgskin, Searson and Jack Hassall, who all admitted conspiracy to burgle, Judge Mark Brown, said: “These were well-planned burglaries committed in different parts of Wirral carried out by you acting as a gang in the houses you targeted.
“You travelled from Tranmere and Birkenhead, where you lived, to commit them.
“It’s clear Lewis Hodgskin was motivated by financial gain. Whilst Dean Searson, you were only 16 at the time, I don’t accept you were a minor player who merely waited outside while the burglaries were committed.”
Detaining Hodgskin for seven and a half years and banning him from driving for three, Judge Brown said: “You have a lengthy criminal record.
“You have little respect for others, their property or the court.”
He told Searson, of no fixed address: “I have to have at the forefront of my mind the fact that you are only 17 years old.
“But you involved yourself in serious planned criminal acts when you had only just been released from a custodial sentence. Furthermore it was you who assaulted a neighbour during one of the burglaries in November.”
Judge Brown had him detained for four years and banned from driving for three years, to which Searson replied: “Easy.”
Hassall, 19, of Bedford Road, Birkenhead, was sent to a young offender’s institution for three years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to burgle, though he was involved over just one night.
He said “Thanks” to the judge as he was taken to the cells.
Dylan Worrall, 19, of no fixed address, admitted handling an Audi stolen in one of the burglaries and making off without paying for £20 of petrol from Trafalgar service station. He was given 12 months in a young offenders’ institution.
Sean Griffiths, 27, admitted handling stolen goods by trying to sell a BMW and laptop the gang burgled to his girlfriend.
Despite his long criminal record Griffiths, of Union Street, Birkenhead, was said to be turning his life around so the judge deferred his sentence until February to see if he could stay out of trouble.
Kevin Hammon, 18, of Tumilty Avenue, Bootle, admitted one burglary and was given 12 months’ detention suspended for two years.
Judge Brown told him he would have to complete 120 hours unpaid work, adding: “I am prepared to give you a chance. Do not let me down.”
Judge Brown added: “People are sick and fed up of domestic burglaries. I hope the people of Wirral will be grateful to the police for what they have achieved in this case.”