Car crooks from Stourbridge caged after theft attempt thwarted

First published in News

CAR thieves from Stourbridge who targeted a red BMW Mark 3 and tried to snatch the driver's handbag to get the keys have been locked up.

The two disguised themselves with hoodies and scarves and lay in wait one morning at Kidderminster railway station. But their intended victim was a solicitor working for the Crown Prosecution Service, and she was not as vulnerable as they had thought, Worcester Crown Court heard.

Trevor Meegan, prosecuting, said that when one of the robbers, Luke Burns, ran across, crouched down and lunged to grab the bag from behind, she would not let go. She swore at him and screamed and there was a short "tug of war" in the station car park.

Burns gave up and ran back to a stolen Ford Focus car with a false number plate where his accomplice, John Field, was waiting.

"It was a planned robbery and she was targeted because of her car," Mr Meegan said.

The woman, Martha Secker, said in a victim impact statement she now looks over her shoulder and clings tightly to her bag whenever she walks to get the train in Kidderminster. She said she had been more anxious since the incident, which happened at about 8.20am on February 9 this year.

Burns, aged 19, was arrested at his home in Turney Road, Stourbridge, and 22-year-old Field at his home in Cheyne Walk, Brierley Hill. Burns admitted attempted robbery. Field initially denied the charge but changed his plea on the second day of a trial. He also admitted receiving stolen goods by handling the Ford Focus, stolen three days earlier. A third man has been given six months for the theft.

Samantha Powis, defending Burns, said he had been taking education courses while on remand because he is determined to make a productive restart.

Nicola Steers, defending Field, said he had Asperger's syndrome and an obsession with cars. She said other people were aware he knew a lot about them and this had led to requests to steal them. This had led to the front door of his parents' home being smashed in and bricks thrown through the windows when he had refused to help. The house has now been put up for sale and the family intends to move from the area.

Judge Robert Juckes said the pair had picked on a young woman who was not as vulnerable as they had expected.

He gave Burns 18 months in a young offenders institution minus 182 days already spent in custody. Field was given two years for the attempted robbery with six months concurrent for receiving. He was also given four weeks for breach of a suspended sentence, making a total of 25 months minus 122 days he has already spent in custody.

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