The five-strong gang, led by father and son crooks Nicky and Corey Rothero, struck at the Worcestershire home of Leicester City player Demarai Gray while his girlfriend and their baby were in bed.
The robbers stole £24,000 worth of cash and jewellery from Gray's house in Barnt Green as part of a crime spree that saw the group terrorise people in homes, shops, pubs and a bingo hall between October 2018 and February 2019.
Former Birmingham City and England Under-21 player Gray was at training when the gang struck, stealing a Rolex and the keys to Gray's Mercedes which wasn't there.
The crooks targeted several other homes and businesses within 10 miles of their homes in Northfield including two houses in Halesowen and a One Stop store in Castle Road West, Oldbury.
WATCH: CCTV shows the gang in action
The group were eventually caught in April when the Rotheros and accomplices Aaron Jones and Tyler Greenway were arrested from a stolen VW Golf the day after a burglary in Clent, Worcestershire.
They had earlier been seen trying to pawn stolen jewellery in Birmingham's jewellery quarter.
A jewellery box was then found in the Golf’s passenger door pocket which contained letters written by the victim’s children to the Tooth Fairy. When these were examined a fingerprint was found belonging to 19-year-old Corey, of Borrowdale Road in Northfield.
He was today jailed for 15 years and his father, aged 35 and from Austin Rose in Longbridge, was jailed for 24 years.
They were both sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court after admitting conspiracy to rob, burgle and steal.
Nicky's half-brother Jones, formerly of Stilthouse Grove, Northfield, was jailed for 27 years and 19-year-old Tyler Greenway, of Vineyard Road, Northfield, was given a 15-year term.
Jones and Greenway had admitted conspiracy to burgle and steal but denied involvement in the robberies. A jury found them guilty them following a seven-week trial.
Meanwhile Darren Sadler, 41, from Dunbar Close, Bartley Green, had already been jailed for 10 years eight months having been caught during a phone shop robbery.
He was given an extra four years after admitting his role in six other commercial robberies.
The Rotheros, Jones and Sadler started their crime spree when they held up a One Stop shop in Northfield with knives and forced staff to open a cash machine.
They replicated the raid at three more One Stop stores – at Vicarage Road and Broad Lane in Kings Heath and Castle Road West in Oldbury – and also struck at the Barnt Green pub in Rednal on November 5 when they grabbed takings.
On December 2 they threatened to stab staff at the EE phone shop in Bristol Road North before loading £60,000 worth of mobiles into a builder’s sack and two weeks later took a cash drawer from Buzz Bingo in Rubery.
But they came unstuck on January 22 2019 during a robbery at Carphone Warehouse in Longbridge town centre.
They bagged around £40,000 worth of handsets but plain clothes officers were on duty nearby and rushed to the scene as passers-by helped to detain Sadler. He was arrested from behind the wheel of a getaway car stolen eight days earlier in Halesowen.
'F***ing stab them'
The other three managed to flee – one of them encouraging an armed accomplice to “f***ing stab them”.
Police later seized Nick Rothero’s phone and found a message he’d received asking “what happened to that guy (Sadler) has he been at court”. Rothero replied “got a 12” to which the unknown person replied “gutted”.
The gang recruited Tyler Greenway to fill the void left by Sadler’s capture.
They went on to commit five home invasions – at Demarai Gray's Barnt Green home, plus two in Halesowen and others in Alvechurch and Bromsgrove – and attacked security guards as they arrived to fill up an ATM machine in Frankley Beeches Road, Northfield, on March 8.
On that occasion they threatened to shoot the guards – with Nicky Rothero cocking his pistol several times and warning “I’m not joking” – before making off with two cash boxes.
A Facebook message revealed Rothero Snr was asked “they get away with much”? He typed back “loads I think… was filling the cash machine so about 80 grand”.
They later realised they’d made off with two empty containers.
Jewellery and watches
The gang committed what turned out to be their final robbery – at a rural barn conversion in Stoney Lane, Bromsgrove, on April 4 – when a family was confronted by Jones armed with a sawn-off shotgun.
Following the arrests warrants were executed at the homes of both Rotheros.
Police found nine designer watches, including Armani and Tissot, in Nicky’s bedroom drawers plus a decoder key used to steal vehicles, and a hunting knife used in several of the robberies.
And at Rothero junior’s home, officers recovered receipts in his name for pawned jewellery, including cash payments of £449 and £1,100 for two gold rings and another for £1,500. Balaclavas were also seized from his home.
Investigating officer, Detective Constable Dan Halford from West Midlands Police’s Force Priorities Team, said: “This was a ruthless band of men driven by greed. They used extreme violence to rob commercial premises and residential homes, assaulting victims and threatening to use knives and firearms.
“They struck at family homes, ones they suspected were affluent, at times when people were sitting down to dinner or caring for children. Their actions caused immeasurable distress to the victims and their families.
“We identified the group through forensic evidence we found DNA at some attacked premises – and extensive analysis of phone communication.
“We’ve taken some very dangerous men off the streets and they have rightly been jailed for a long period of time.”