Pair who stole £10,000 of jewellery on Whiteley raid jailed

SENTENCED Lawrence Rooney
SENTENCED Lawrence Rooney
Picture: Sussex Police

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TWO masked raiders who stole more than £10,000 worth of jewellery during a break-in at a house have been jailed.

John Hanrahan and Lawrence Rooney were members of a gang who targeted wealthy homeowners.

A third man who was seen during the raid in Lee Ground, Whiteley, has not been caught.

The group used a fake number plate on their getaway car and covered their faces with scarves during the planned burglary.

But they were spotted by a neighbour and a passing cyclist who both called the police.

Officers traced the two men after they were caught on CCTV but the jewellery, including an emerald ring and a sapphire ring, have not been found.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard both men had a string of convictions for previous burglaries.

They were seen driving around the area just before 1pm on June 29 last year before approaching the house while the owners were out.

They broke in, setting off the alarm, and quickly searched the place, filling a pillowcase up with stolen goods.

Hanrahan, 22, was jailed for two years while 19-year-old Rooney was sentenced to two years in a young offenders’ institute.

Sentencing them Judge Ian Pearson said: ‘I take the view that this is a case where great harm has been caused because of the significant degree of loss to the victims.

‘I take the view that there was a significant degree of planning and organisation.

‘The three of you were targeting wealthy areas and you were equipped for burglary and you were members of a gang.’

Hanrahan, of no fixed address and Rooney, of Aspen Green, Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, both pleaded guilty to burglary.

Henry Day, defending Rooney, said: ‘There obviously was some degree of planning but I don’t think this house was specifically sought out. They were driving down an area that was a fairly wealthy, affluent suburb.

‘They knocked on the door and when there was no answer they broke in.’

Hanrahan’s barrister Daniel Stevenson said he was not driving the car and did not know the vehicle had a false number plate.

‘He is sorry for what he has done,’ Mr Stevenson said.

‘His partner is expecting their first child this October and he is very, very upset about the fact he is not going to see his first child born. He is going to miss that.’

Police ask for help to find stolen property

POLICE are still keen to reunite the victims with the stolen jewellery.

The items not recovered include:

· Four 24-carat gold rings

· Gold chain necklace in the shape of a fish

· Gold chain with three pendants

· Gold ring with a sapphire stone

· Gold chain and earring set

· Man’s gold wedding ring

· Gold cygnet ring with an emerald stone

· Gold cygnet ring with a golden yellow sapphire stone

Detective Constable Richard Jones said: ‘Hampshire Constabulary extended Operation Nemesis this year with a clear purpose to warn burglars and thieves that their activities are being targeted and tackled with persistent and painstaking police work.

‘Burglars show a blatant disregard and lack of respect for people’s privacy or possessions by deciding to invade homes and steal. We will never be complacent in stopping their actions from affecting the lives of the law-abiding majority.

‘I would like to call on the public for their ongoing support with information about stolen property, particularly prized personal possessions, so we can reunite items with their rightful owners.’

Anyone with information should contact Det Con Jones by phoning 101.