Jail terms for thieves who raided 56 schools

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Three men who admitted stealing £200,000 worth of computers from schools including Moulton Primary School have been jailed.

Fifty six primary schools and colleges were targeted following detailed research by the gang into the location of IT departments and security arrangements.

At Moulton primary the thieves stole 15 laptops, each valued at around £450, from the building’s new ICT suite. At the time the Journal reported the school had only just inherited the laptops from the recently-closed town middle schools.

Appearing at Ipswich Crown Court on Friday were Christopher Kerr, 25, and Liam Cook, 26, both of Frinton, and Francis Wilding, 22, of Jaywick, who all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary between August, 2012, and May, 2013. Kerr admitted involvement in 16 raids, Cook five and Wilding 28.

Prosecutor Martin Mulgrew described them as professional burglars who had raided 31 schools in Suffolk and 25 in Essex taking more than 300 computers, none of which have been recovered.

The gang were caught after Wilding left traces of blood at one location. Police traced him and seized his mobile phone which revealed details of calls to Cook and Kerr.

The court heard that as the gang forced open windows at the schools they caused damage amounting to more than £37,000.

Mitigating solicitor told the court Wilding had acted out of character and had expressed remorse, while Kerr had been trying to make ends meet while out of work and was ashamed at what he had done. Cook admitted helping move computers from the schools but said some of the internet searches for details of schools he carried out were innocently on behalf of his young children.

Wilding and Kerr were each jailed for 64 months and Cook for 40 months.