Three thieves who brazenly stole high-value Lego kits from B&M stores in Nottinghamshire have been warned they face jail if they reoffend.
A manhunt was launched after stores in Worksop, Mansfield and Netherfield were targeted in the space of two days – with over £4,000 worth of Lego sets taken.
On each occasion, CCTV showed three men wearing baseball caps entering the store during opening hours and taking reusable shopping bags, before filling them up with Lego products and walking out without paying.
They were caught when a police officer spotted a vehicle full of toys in the Newark area on Wednesday 31 August.
Checks found the vehicle was wanted in connection with the Lego thefts and so a team of officers stopped the vehicle as it travelled along the A17.
All three male occupants were then arrested and later charged with three counts of theft.
Conlon McDonagh, 22, of Gregory Road, Southall, Ealing; Tom McDonagh, 22, of Greenwood Avenue, Enfield; and Patrick Ward, 22, of Gregory Road, Southall pleaded guilty to all the charges after appearing at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on 2 September 2022.
The court heard the first theft took place at the B&M store in Bridge Place, Worksop, at around 5pm on Monday 29 August. One of the men distracted staff while the other two stole nearly £650 worth of Lego from the shelves.
At 8pm on the same evening, the trio targeted the B&M store in Baums Lane, Mansfield, filling up four large bags with Lego products worth approximately £1,000 before leaving without paying.
The next day, they went even further and took almost £3,000 worth of Lego products and toys from the B&M store at Victoria Retail Park in Netherfield. On this occasion, a shop assistant challenged them as they were leaving. One of thieves swore at her before they all fled in a car.
Having been caught the following day, the men were put before the courts and were each jailed for 18 weeks, suspended for 12 months. It means they must not commit any further offences in order to stay out of prison.
The trio were also banned from entering any B&M store in England and Wales for a year.
Sergeant Antony Coleman, who oversaw the investigation, said: “Thanks to the instincts of the patrolling officers whose suspicions were aroused by the considerable amount of Lego in the vehicle, these brazen thieves were all swiftly caught.
“They travelled to Nottinghamshire to commit these high-value thefts, thinking they could get away with it. They were wrong.
“Due to the dedication and professional work of the force’s Prisoner Handling Team, the courts have been able to deal with the matter in a timely manner.
“We continue to treat shop thefts seriously and our proactive work to combat this issue is ongoing including targeted operations in hot-spot areas, increased patrols and working closely with businesses and local authorities to reduce retail crime.”