Members of a travelling gang who targeted Flintshire workmen, stealing £22,000 of their tools and equipment from outside their homes, have been handed combined custodial sentences of nearly 10 years.

Nathan Boswell, Bradley Smith and Christopher Casey travelled from their homes in the east Midlands and broke into the vans and work vehicles of 23 local tradesman stealing power tools and drills as well as computer equipment.

A fourth man, Cyrus Tebbutt, stole a BMW car from a Leicester garage so he could act as the lookout.

Had it not been for the eagle eye of a member of the security staff at St. David’s Park in Ewloe, who initially thought the false-plated BMW might be an unmarked police vehicle, and good police work the quartet may have not been caught.

The car was spotted again in the early hours parked up at the Beaufort Park Hotel in New Brighton village near Mold where the gang were bedding down for the night after committing their spate of thefts.

Judge Rhys Rowlands told Boswell, Smith and Casey, who admitted a charge of conspiracy to steal: “This was a campaign of theft and you would have got away with it had it not been for the security officer who contacted the police about the BMW.

“These were workmen’s tools and while they have been returned there was significant harm caused to the individuals by their loss.”

Prosecutor Brian Treadwell said the victims had their vehicles broken into with all the items taken recovered in a van parked up at the nearby Ewloe Social Club.

“The M.O. was remarkably similar in all the cases. A vehicle was broken into and tools were taken with an overall value of £22,000. With the stolen BMW it amounted to £34,000 [stolen property],” said Mr Treadwell.

“Vehicles were broken into outside homes using a universal key or drilling into the locks. Tools, battery packs, power tools, scrap metal, mobile phones, radios and computers were taken.

“It had professional hallmarks as the offenders travelled from outside the area and used a stolen BMW and a second vehicle was brought to North Wales to store the stolen items.

“All the victims suffered a loss of earnings, contract deadlines were not met and many of the workmen, who are required to supply their own tools, suffered a financial loss.”

Boswell, 20, of Newbarns Avenue, Ely, Casey, 21, of Redhill Nook, Thurcaston Road, Leicester and Smith, 31, of Barnston Road, Bagworth, Coalville all admitted conspiracy to steal in March this year. Boswell also admitted a burglary in Leicestershire in October 2016.

Tebbutt, 21, of Mountcastle Road, Leicester alone admitted theft of the BMW X5 at Leicester.

Barrister Charnjit Jutlar, mitigating for Smith, said: “He’s not the sharpest tool in the box. But while he has been in custody he did complete a literacy and numeracy course.

“It is not a case that elderly or vulnerable victims were targeted and although there is a degree or planning it is not as sophisticated as some that would fall before this court.”

Barrister Sukhdev Garcha, for Boswell, said: “This is a young man who was partaking in cannabis at the time of the offences and he had financial difficulties with his family.”

Barrister Balraj Bhatia said Casey suffers from ADHD and depression, while Harbinder Lally said Tebbutt was living with mental health problems, including ADHD.

Boswell was sentenced to four years in a Young Offenders Institution, while Casey and Smith both received two years and Tebbutt was handed a 16-month sentence. The judge accepted his not guilty verdict on a conspiracy to steal charge.