Burglars jailed for stealing more than £500,000 from homes of celebrities

Three burglars with a penchant for designer handbags have been jailed after stealing more than £500,000 worth of luxury goods from the homes of the rich and famous.

Thomas Mee, 42, Vincent Ball, 52, and John Barlow, 58, all from Liverpool, were sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Monday after admitting conspiracy to burgle, police said.

Manchester City footballer Raheem Sterling's house was targeted in the spree, along with Jamiroquai singer Jay Kay's home in Buckinghamshire.

Jewellery, watches and handbags were stolen from 14 properties in the raids across Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire, Buckinghamshire and Warwickshire between November 2018 and October 2019, the court heard.

Police found pictures of bags from designers including Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Yves Saint Laurent on the phone of Mee, who also admitted handling stolen goods at Chester Crown Court.

During one burglary at a home in Willaston, Cheshire, more than £146,000 worth of goods including handbags and jewellery were stolen.

Prosecutor Simon Parry said: "The following morning Mee's telephone photographed a number of luxury handbags and other items.

"He sent them to two females. One of those replied by message asking Mr Mee what the prices were for the stolen items he was selling."

The trio of burglars also targeted the home of Mansfield Town owners John and Carolyn Radford in Barnby Moor, Nottinghamshire, and stole almost £114,000 of goods.

But the raids weren't always successful, as the criminals left footballer Sterling's home in Goostrey, Cheshire, empty-handed in November 2018 after the alarm was activated.

Ten days later, the burglars only got away with a camera from popstar Kay's Buckinghamshire mansion.

On the final raid before they were caught and arrested by police, the criminals were disturbed by the son of Bury FC owner Steve Dale as they ransacked his bedroom.

They were chased away from the property by Mr Dale's son and dropped watches worth between £300,000 and £500,000, escaping with only a £10 note.

Items including balaclavas, binoculars, crowbars and cloned number plates were found in a car used by the men after they were arrested.

Mee was jailed for eight years and seven months.

Getaway driver Ball was sentenced to six years and nine months, while Barlow was jailed for seven years and six months.

A police spokesman described the burglaries as "sickening".

He added: "While the majority of these incidents occurred when the victims were out, some burglaries took place while they were at home. To be subjected to such an ordeal must be absolutely terrifying and something that nobody should have to experience."