|The pair disguised themselves as window cleaners when they went on heists.|
Jail for burglars who posed as window cleaners to raid London offices: A pair of bogus window cleaners who ransacked central London businesses stealing thousands of pounds worth of goods have been sent to prison. Robert Smythe, 54, of Dufferin Street EC1 and Tony Dudley, 40, of Horatio Street were jailed for conspiracy to commit burglary at Southwark Crown Court after pleading guilty at a previous hearing. Both men were sentenced to three years and four months imprisonment.
The duo targeted office buildings in and around London in the early hours of the morning, donning hi-visibility work-wear, and driving a van full of window cleaning equipment as a front for their illegal activities. The burglars forced their way into the buildings by using crowbars and other tools, and also used their ladders to climb up to windows above ground level to gain entry. Once inside, they searched the offices stealing numerous items including computers and IT equipment.
The burglary spree cost businesses in excess of £100,000 in stolen property and damage, with the reported value of the stolen goods at £70,786.46 and the bill for damage caused totalling £34,260.88.
The pair were caught following a burglary committed on October 1 in Mercer Street, Covent Garden.
Two uniformed officers, who had been tasked to arrest the men, stopped their van late on the evening of October 15 after the pair had just left Smythe's home. In the van they found hi-visibility jackets with the words "Fire Warden" on them and hi-visibility gloves, crow bars, angle grinders and bolt croppers.
|Jailed for window-cleaner burglaries... Tony Dudley (left) and Robert Smythe.|
Smythe told police the equipment was for the window cleaning jobs the pair were carrying out, and to back this up, they had a "token" bucket of dirty water and squeegee in the back of the van. The men were arrested, and detectives were then able to link the pair to similar audacious burglaries carried out over the past year in surrounding London boroughs. Using DNA taken from Smythe, CCTV images of the burglaries being committed and vehicles used and number plate recognition techniques, detectives were able to link the pair to 23 separate burglary offences between June and October.
They were charged with Conspiracy to Burgle on October 17 and have been remanded in custody ever since. DC Tony Holley, the officer in the case for Westminster CID, said: "This was a prolific series of burglaries by Smythe and Dudley across London. "Smythe and Dudley were very presise in their criminal activities, operating in a methodical manner by intentionally appearing as legitimate overnight window cleaners then breaking in and calmly and thoroughly ransacking the offices. "Many people think that crimes against businesses are victimless but some of these businesses are small with very tight margins and this sort of crime can be the difference between them succeeding and going under."