Serial Midlands burglars jailed after UK raids haul found on Canadian websites

They were linked to scores of robberies across the Midlands and were caught after some of their haul was advertised for sale over the internet.

Matthew Brookes, left, and Mark Toogood
Matthew Brookes, left, and Mark Toogood

But now the two men are behind bars for their part in a string of break-ins in Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire.

They were caught following a long operation by police which saw detectives trawl through phone data and traffic cameras.

It is also included contacting Canadian authorities to find information about the websites used by Mark Toogood, of Dudley.

The 28-year-old of Stourbridge Road, Dudley was jailed for nine years and Matthew Clinton Brookes, also 28, of Field Road, Princes End, Tipton, was jailed for seven-and-a-half years.

Both had admitted conspiracy to burgle addresses in the three counties.

Detective Constable Dave Louden of West Mercia Police said the investigation was launched when Toogood was arrested for three separate burglaries last June.

He was found to be selling property from burglaries on free websites, and detectives analysed his phones and used data from ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras to link him to about 38 burglaries committed across the Midlands over the previous year.

Through Toogood police were able to trace Brooks, and he could be linked to about 20 of the burglaries.

DC Louden said: “This was a very complex and in-depth case involving West Mercia and various other police forces.

“As the websites Toogood used were registered in Canada, it became an international inquiry, and we had to seek the permission of the authorities over there to access information about how he had used the internet to advertise and offload the stolen goods.

“A lot of hard work went into bringing these charges against both Toogood and Brooks, and we are very pleased with the result.”

In December, Toogood was given a 32-month sentence for carrying out three burglaries - two in Redditch and one in Fairfield, near Bromsgrove – for which he was arrested in June.

Last autumn West Mercia Police launched Citadel, a scheme aimed at reducing the number of burglaries taking place across the force area.

The operational tactics being used include greater analysis of crime patterns, co-ordinated use of new technology such as ANPR software, and partnership work as well as more traditional policing tactics such as high visibility patrols in burglary hotspots.