Amateur sleuth busts burglary gang by snapping them as they emerged from her neighbour's home (From Surrey Comet)
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Amateur sleuth busts burglary gang by snapping them as they emerged from her New Malden neighbour's home
An amateur sleuth was chased by burglars after she photographed them breaking into a neighbour’s home.
The woman heard noises coming from the house in Bodley Road, New Malden, and saw the door had been broken open.
In a move described as "chilling" by the judge, the three men drove after her car when they realised they had been snapped emerging from a shed.
Dean Jackson, 26, Daniel O'Brien, 28, and John Ballingall, 29, were jailed yesterday afternoon at Kingston Crown Court for stealing £50,000 worth of jewellery, cash and other goods on May 23.
Prosecutor Paul Andrews told the court the woman called the police, then sat in her car and took photos of the men as they came out of the shed and walked towards a silver Ford Focus parked in the road.
Suspecting she had been spotted, she drove away and was followed by the burglars.
Mr Andrews said: "She was followed by this car. They clearly noticed what she was doing."
But the burglars fled when police arrived and started to chase them.
They ditched their car and fled on foot in separate directions.
Ballingall was arrested in Burlington Road, Jackson was caught in Queen's Road and O'Brien in Oakfield Close.
Sentencing the gang today, Judge Fergus Mitchell said: "I'm quite satisfied this was a team effort.
“You came over to this area to burgle.
“I am satisfied you were a team and that is an aggravating factor in these offences.
“I think you are hardened professionals in the business of burglary.”
Judge Mitchell said: “I am satisfied you knew quite well what was happening and I believe you did follow the car.
"That isn't going to increase the sentence but it is quite chilling really.”
Jackson, from Hayes, was sentenced to 23 months in prison.
Ballingall, also from Hayes, was jailed for 28 months while O'Brien was sentenced to 30 months, including two months for breaching a community order for a previous offence.
All three have previous convictions for burglary or attempted burglary.
About £24,685 worth of jewellery stolen in the raid has never been recovered.
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