A teenager has been jailed after stealing a number of high value cars to order before advertising them on Snapchat.
Lewis Muir, 18, was part of a group who would break into houses across Greater Manchester by drilling through and snapping the lock to the rear doors.
They would then take the keys of ‘desirable, high powered and high value’ cars, Minshull Street Crown Court heard.
READMORE: Man died from alleged ‘one punch’ after stepping aside to maintain social distancing from stranger, trial hears
Muir, of Crumpsall, went on to advertise the stolen cars for sale on Snapchat.
He was eventually caught whilst driving a stolen BMW and led police on a 100-miles-per-hour chase, before he jumped out of the car and hid in a neighboring garden.
The 18-year-old was picked up on a police helicopter camera and arrested.
He has since pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit burglary; conspiracy to steal; burglary; theft; dangerous driving; driving whilst disqualified; no insurance and fraudulent use of registration plates.
On Friday (February 11) he was sentenced to four years detention in a young offenders institution.
Prosecutor David James previously said that Muir was part of a group who were stealing ‘desirable’ ‘high powered’ and ‘high value’ cars to order.
The group wore balaclavas, broke into the victims’ homes at night whilst they were asleep, and stole the keys for the cars, he said.
The first burglary took place on July 24 of last year, when CCTV captured three individuals breaking into a house in Ashton-under-Lyne, and a BMW worth £40,000 was stolen.
On August 14 an Audi worth £28,000 was stolen from Chadderton, as was a Ford transit van, work tools and a BMW Sport worth £40,000 were stolen from an address in Manchester.
Muir’s phone contained Snapchat messages of him showing the BMW and the Audi, the prosecutor said.
At an address in Tameside on August 30, the group stole a BMW worth £66,000 and a handbag worth £300 which contained the house keys and pictures of the victim’s children.
A month later on September 25, from a house in Droylsden they stole a Mercedes worth £37,000 and a Toyota Hybrid worth £20,000.
A message showed Muir selling the Merc two days later.
On September 28, from a house in Middleton whilst a family with three young children slept upstairs, the group were captured on CCTV breaking in and taking an Audi A7 worth £66,000, eight gold bangles, a gold necklace, a wallet, a child’s buggy which was in the boot, and two baby car seats.
When the Audi was found two hours later in Crumpsall, the interior panels were removed which suggested the group were looking for tracking devices, the court heard.
Other stolen cars included an Audi, a Mercedes worth £20k and a VW Tiguan worth £25k.
The court was told that one family in particular had a difficult day as their daughter was receiving treatment in hospital, that night their Mercedes was stolen, as was the mum’s handbag containing various bank cards.
On November 19 in Bury a man was awoken by a bang and went to let his dog out when it became spooked by two youths who were on his patio.
They were in the process of drilling through the lock of his back door when they were disturbed, it was said.
The final offense showed the ‘planning and targeting undertaken by the group’, Mr James said.
Manchester’s courts are some of the busiest in the country with a vast array of cases heard every week.
To keep up to date with how justice is being served across Greater Manchester subscribe to our free weekly MEN Court News newsletter put together by our court reporters Andrew Bardsley and Amy Walker.
How do I sign up?
- First just click on this link to our newsletter sign-up centre.
- Once you’re there, put your email address where it says at the top, then tick the MEN Court News box. There are other newsletters available if you want them as well.
- When you’ve made your choice, hit Save Changes button at the bottom.
Muir’s phone contained photos of expensive stolen cars, him actively advertising them for sale, maps edited to show locations of where different cars can be found in Manchester, instructions on how to remove tracking devices, pictures of bundles of cash and conversations of methods to avoid detection.
On November 21 he was caught driving a BMW that had been stolen hours before and was detained by the police.
In various statements, victims of the burglaries spoke of their fears and concerns.
One victim said: “This incident left me feeling vulnerable in my own home. I fear for the safety of me and my family.”
Another victim said: “This whole incident has shaken me up. Initially it has really upset me, I have worked hard for my car and I do not like the fact that somebody has now taken it.
“The fact that somebody has invaded my own personal property whilst I have been there asleep has made me feel sick.”
Muir was said to have previous convictions for dangerous driving, no insurance and no license.
Sentencing, Recorder Samantha Presland said: “They were people who were simply targeted because they had a posh car.
“This is a heinous crime.
“You threw yourself into this activity which caused destruction for families without thinking of the impact this would have on those people in their homes.
“If you were an adult and this came to me at trial, I would be giving you a sentence of 12 years.
“You are not a stupid young man, you are clearly an intelligent young man. You were doing this at the same time as doing an electrician apprenticeship.
“I want you to think about the harm caused, imagine if it was your own parents and somebody had come into their house simply because they had a nice car.
“This is your turning point.”
Muir, of Blackley New Road, was sentenced to four years in a young offenders institution and disqualified from driving for four years.
See the latest court and crime news in your area by receiving email updates
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.