A GANG of tobacco thieves who stole around £53,000 worth cigarettes from delivery vans across the West Midlands have been jailed.
The four men, including a pair from Solihull, were each sentenced to two years and six months imprisonment for conspiracy to steal at Hereford Crown Court last Friday, May 20.
The convictions relate to 13 offences, including one at Mills Newsagents, Solihull, in April 2009 where approximately £1,234 was stolen.
Detectives investigated more than 170 offences from 2008 to 2010.
The defendants were Alexander O’Reilly, aged 34, from Kingshurst, David Malloy, aged 35, from Chelmsley Wood, John Donnelly, aged 38, of Pype Hayes and Andrew Taylor, aged 27, also from Pype Hayes.
O’Reilly is due to be released because the length of time he has spent on remand exceeds his sentence.
Detective Constable Max Voyce from West Mercia Police said: “A couple of years ago so many cigarette thefts were taking place across the West Midlands region we were registering almost one a day.
“It was having a massive impact on our local distribution companies: one firm was losing in the region of £750,000 a year because of crime.
“Now that O’Reilly, Donnelly, Taylor and Malloy, and another group of offenders have been taken out of action, cigarette thefts in the West Midlands have almost completely stopped.”