Four sentenced for high value plant theft conspiracy - Hertfordshire

01/03/2013

Four men appeared at St Albans Crown Court today, Friday, 01 March 2013, and were sentenced to a total of 21 years and one month for their part in a conspiracy to steal and export heavy plant machinery in at least 19 separate instances.

Lee Mark Dunn and his two sons Stacy and Lee Paul were on trial between 14 January 2013, and 26 February 2013, charged with conspiracy to steal and were found guilty. The fourth man, Richard Scales, pleaded guilty to the same offence on 05 November 2012, at St Albans Crown Court.

The investigation, codenamed Operation Pursue, was led by Hertfordshire Constabulary and involved an investigation into wide scale, cross border, high value thefts of plant equipment, predominantly excavators (JCBs) from construction sites.  The thefts were highly organised and it became clear that each offence was planned in detail prior to its commission.

The team, were highly organised and well equipped. The majority of stolen plant, which was not recovered by Police during the Operation, was exported to Eastern Europe using fraudulent documentation of an unprecedented quality and incredibly difficult to forge. The plant equipment was generally stolen to order and exported on large articulated lorries, mainly to Poland.

There were19 offences, which formed the conspiracy.  However, it was the prosecution case that this was probably the "tip of the iceberg." The 19 offences spanned over 14 months between 01 January 2011, and 07 March 2012. The value of the stolen plant was estimated to be in excess of £700,000.

The four men were sentenced as follows:

  • Stacy Dunn, aged 36, from Cecil Street, Watford, was sentenced to 5 years 9 months
  • Lee Mark Dunn, aged 52, from High Street, Bedmond, Abbots Langley, was sentenced to 5 years 6 months
  • Lee Paul Dunn, aged 32, from Matlock Crescent, Watford, was sentenced to 5 years 6 months
  • Richard Scales, aged 48, from Bardwell Court, St Albans, was sentenced to 4 years 4 months.

Whilst Sentencing, His Honour Judge Stephen Warner said that this was a sophisticated conspiracy committed in Hertfordshire in which all the defendants took part during a 14 month period. He added that the crimes involved significant planning and organisation where theft locations and storage locations were identified, plant was disguised, and sophisticated false documentation was created. The targeted building sites included residential sites, schools, and civic sites. The stolen property was of a significantly high value and a lucrative trade. The Judge took into account the serious impact of their offending on the construction industry and the community.