LATEST NEWS: Raiders stole £20,000 in car parts and petrol

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Thieves stole almost £20,000 of petrol and car parts during repeated raids at a compound.

The raiders siphoned petrol from tanks, stripped wheels from cars and caused damage at Honda Springfield Motor Company and Cars to You, both within the Crowther Road Industrial Estate in Washington.

The site came under attack three times between early June and mid July last

year and the companies have reported a total loss to the businesses of £30,000.

The court heard Honda Springfield bore the brunt of the damage - with over £15,000 attributed to loss and damage and another £12,000 being spent to improve security.

Proescutor Michael Graham told Newcastle Crown Court: “Honda Springfield put the total loss to them as £27,665.

“A total of £2,562 applies to the first raid from the drilling of fuel tanks and damage to the vehicles.

“During the second raid there was £12,500 of theft and damage.

“The remainder of the loss relates to the installation of a security fence.”

A total of £1,700 of damage and theft was reported by Cars for You.

Melvyn Daniel, 41, of Stridingedge, Blackfell, Washington, and Simon Smith, 26, of Hawkins Road, Murton, were caught “red handed” leaving the compound after the final raid.

Police found four BMW alloy wheels, a television set and containers of petrol in the back of the van being driven by Daniel, with Smith as his passenger.

Both men admitted theft charges in relation to their parts in two of the raids.

Judge John Evans sentenced both defendants to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 250 hours unpaid work.

Daniel, who has a job, was ordered to pay £1,000 costs.

Both men will be back in court for a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act next year.

Julian Smith, defending, said Daniel has been unable to continue his business as a recovery mechanic as his vehicle was immobilised by police during his arrest.

Mr Smith said: “The consequences to him is disproportionate to any benefit he could have expected to recover from this.

“He has clearly learned a lesson by having to give up the business because of this.

“He is clearly a man who understands what he has done.”

Mr Smith said Daniel acted out of character when he committed the offences and now has new employment.

Glen Gatland, also defending, said Smith’s partner is due to have their baby next year and he is now settling down into family life while staying away from trouble.