BURGLARS who posed as golfers to carry out raids on clubhouses in East Lancashire have been jailed – after they were caught on camera.
Daniel Lloyd, 43, and Joe McCaughey, 26, targeted Nelson, Rossendale and Chorley golf club’s during their 16-month nationwide spree.
The National Crime Agency believe they could have raided up to 1,000 lockers and stolen equipment worth more than £750,000 from across 17 counties.
The pair dressed in golf attire, chatted to golfers and duped members of staff to access to changing rooms. They forced lockers open in the middle of the day and stole items including golf clubs, bags and clothing.
Lloyd and McCaughey were responsible for at least 36 separate burglaries, including four in Lancashire in a single day, some of which were caught on CCTV.
Steve Baldwin, head of regional investigations at the National Crime Agency, said: “These men were professional burglars who tried to mask their identities by avoiding CCTV cameras, changing their clothes to enter the same clubs over and over again, and using false number plates on their vehicles.”
The pair came to the attention of the NCA following an investigation into a corrupt criminal defence lawyer who was sentenced last year for perverting the course of justice. Lloyd was one of the lawyer’s close associates and was arrested at the time.
When officers searched Lloyd’s home they found evidence on his computer of internet searches for golf club thefts, locker security and lock picking.
Further investigation revealed that Lloyd and McCaughey were the subjects of a wanted appeal by police which featured on BBC’s Crimewatch in 2010.
At the time police had asked for information on two men they believed had struck 60 times while clubhouses were open for business by posing as golfers and brazenly raiding lockers.
Officers believe Lloyd funded his lifestyle by committing crime as there are no tax records to support his claim that he was a businessman involved in property and car deals.
In addition to his luxury house, which is worth over £800,000, he drove high value vehicles including a Bentley and a Range Rover.
Mr Baldwin said: “When we discovered they were the wanted men from the appeal, the NCA worked with police forces and golf clubs across the country to gather evidence.
“We proved they had stolen equipment from hundreds of golfers, which they disposed of here and overseas.
“Our focus is now the financial side of the investigation and stripping them of their assets.”
Between 10am on May 4, 2009 and 7pm on May 5, 2009, the two men stole equipment worth £3,575 from Rossendale Golf Club, in Ewood Lane Head, Haslingden.
Between 6pm on May 6, 2009, and 2pm on May 7, 2009, they took equipment worth £1,350 from secure lockers at Nelson Golf Club, in Kings Causeway, Brierfield.
And between 6am and 10pm on September 1, 2009, they stole equipment valued at £2,300 from Chorley Golf Club, in Heath Charnock.
Although evidence relating to 36 golf clubs burglaries was used during the three-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court, officers believe Lloyd and McCaughey were responsible for many more and could have raided up to a 1,000 lockers and stolen equipment worth over £750,000.
When they gained access to the changing rooms, which they sometimes did by duping members of staff, they stole full sets of golf clubs, shoes, clothing and even cherry-picked the more expensive clubs.
The main vehicle they used was a Chrysler Grand Voyager which was registered to an address linked to Lloyd. He sold the vehicle shortly after the Crimewatch programme was aired.
Lloyd, of Holwood Estate, Westerham Road, Keston, was locked up for five years, while McCaughey, of King Henry’s Drive, New Addington, Croydon, was jailed for three years after they were found guilty of conspiracy to burgle.