Three jailed over stolen plant worth £1m

Three people have been jailed for their roles in a gang that sold £1.3m of stolen plant machinery, with four others given suspended sentences.

All the sentences related to the sale of 46 plant machines that were stolen, mainly from North West England, between 2015 and 2018.

The machines were valued between £8,000 and £105,000 each, and thought to be worth about £1.3m in total. They were sold to a gang based in Nelson in Lancashire, which sold the machines on to buyers across Europe and further afield after modifying them to hide the original identification numbers.

Lancashire Police began investigating the conspiracy when a person whose digger had been stolen noticed an identical vehicle was being sold from an industrial unit in Nelson.

The seven gang members were sentenced at Preston Crown Court yesterday.

The “driving force” behind the operation, Max Wynn, was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison, as was his brother Richard, while Alex Grice received a prison sentence of five years and 11 months.

The buyers believed they were purchasing the equipment from legitimate businesses.

One person who bought several of the machines said: “I have been trading in the plant/machinery business for over 20 years and my business has been built on trust and goodwill. Immediately on receiving the information from the police I have felt like my good name has been tarnished, and helpless to do anything about it.”

Police constable Neil Goodison of Lancashire Police said: “The group’s audacity was staggering, with stolen machinery sold on to unsuspecting buyers locally and as far away as Spain, Sweden and even Australia.”

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