Eight young people have been convicted for their part in an operation to steal cars across Kent and outer London.

Responsible for as many as 33 burglaries in Kent and London between June and August last year the group, many of them under 18, would be driven to homes at night to break into them while the victims slept, steal the car keys, and then drive off in the victims’ vehicles. 

The vehicles would be sold on with false plates attached, or stripped down for parts.

The value of the stolen vehicles is estimated to exceed £690,000. 

An investigation by Kent Police discovered that some of the vehicles were even stolen to order.

As part of their enquiries into the burglaries, in the early hours of Sunday  August 14 last year, officers stopped a blue Fiat Punto which was being driven by 19-year-old Shannon Kelynack along Ramsden Road, in Orpington. 

Her passengers were Thomas Ripley, Jack Hever, Harry Turner, and a 16-year-old girl. All were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit burglary and subsequently charged.

When officers searched the car they found two Mercedes car keys, as well as items used to carry out burglaries: a screwdriver, ski mask and gloves. 

The two Mercedes had been stolen earlier in the evening from a house in Hartley and were found stored in a garage in Glendower Crescent, Orpington.

Officers uncovered evidence linking the burglaries to the same series, such as CCTV which showed the stolen vehicles being driven in convoy. 

Hever was found to have filmed some of the cars being burnt or destroyed. 

The group received £1,500 per stolen car and they would share the money out between them.

Ripley had been a main offender, having taken part in 21 burglaries. 

Investigating officer Detective Constable Michael Champion said:"Kirstie Covele and Shannon Kelynack - as legal drivers with their own cars - were used to drive the group out to properties, in order for the others to steal and then follow them in convoy.

"The criminal acts carried out by this group were spread over a wide geographical area and despite their young ages, they were committed to organised offending. 

"To them it may have seemed an exciting or thrill-seeking way to make money but ultimately we need to remember the victims affected by their actions.

"These offenders each play their part  in the operation which showed no regard for people’s right to privacy - or the law and cared nothing about taking other people’s belongings.

"Being a victim of burglary is upsetting and regardless of the burglar’s age, their actions will not be tolerated."

News Shopper:

(from left) Kirstie Covele, Jack Hever, Freddie Friend, Harry Turner, and Charlie Parker.

At Maidstone Crown Court on Monday June 12, a total of seven people were sentenced after admitting their part in the illegal activity.

Thomas Ripley, 21, of Star Lane, St Mary Cray was jailed for five years for one count of conspiracy to burgle.

Jack Hever, 20, of Priorsford Avenue, Orpington received three years in youth custody for one count of conspiracy to burgle.

Kirstie Covele, 19, of Maypole Road, Orpington received two years in youth custody for conspiracy to steal.

Shannon Kelynack, 19 of Leesons Hill, Orpington received two years in youth custody for conspiracy to steal. 

Freddie Friend, 17, of Petersham Drive, St Paul’s Cray was sentenced to a two-year detention and training order for conspiracy to burgle.

Harry Turner, 16, of Hamerton Road, Northfleet, was given an 18 month detention and training order for conspiracy to steal.

Charlie Parker, 17, of Waltham Close, Orpington was sentenced to a 12-month detention and training order for conspiracy to burgle.

An eighth defendant, a 16-year-old girl from Orpington, who cannot be named due to legal reasons, was sentenced on Tuesday 13 June to a two-year rehabilitation order after admitting conspiracy to steal.