Men jailed for £5m keg theft plot

By Adam Pescod

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Prison, Keg, West midlands

Men jailed for £5m keg theft plot
Five men from the Midlands have been handed jail sentences totalling 14-and-a-half years for their part in a plot to steal £5 million worth of beer kegs from across the region.

Thought to be the biggest ever ‘metal crime’ in the Birmingham area, the sentencing marks the end of a four-year police investigation which was launched in February 2008 after Sandwell police officers discovered a heavy goods vehicle in Oldbury containing a large amount of stolen beer kegs.

Anthony Geeling from Studley, David Fellows from Blakedown and Ian Lewis from Clent, both in Worcestershire, were handed four-year jail terms at Wolverhampton Crown Court last Friday after being found guilty of conspiring to steal the kegs.

Tom Kibble from Sutton Coldfield was jailed for 15 months for his part in the planned heist, whilst Neil Mackay from Sutton Coldfield was also handed a 15-month sentence for conspiring to steal barrels worth £1.2-million.

Subsequent investigations led detectives to uncover an alleged plot to steal in excess of £5-million worth of metal barrels from across the region.

Two other men – a 62-year-old from Solihull and a 44-year-old from Hall Green – were handed 44-week prison terms, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid community work for handling stolen goods.

Detective Sergeant Simon Smith, from West Midlands Police CID, led the operation. He said: “This marks the end of a painstaking four-year investigation into a large-scale plot to steal and scrap beer kegs from locations across the Midlands.

“The planned theft was estimated to be in the region of £5million – which has to be the biggest metal related offence we have seen in the West Midlands, and possibly the country, to date.

“Beer kegs are private property – they belong to the brewer and all breweries have approved recyclers who they send their old barrels to for destruction once it is no longer fit for use.

“No beer keg should ever be offered, or indeed accepted, for scrap as by rights it should never be in a private individual’s hands.
“These sentences show that police and the criminal justice system are taking metal theft seriously and should serve as a warning to others that offenders will be prosecuted.”

Two other men – a 62-year-old from Solihull and a 44-year-old from Hall Green – were handed 44-week prison terms, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid community work for handling stolen goods.

A spokesman for the British Beer & Pub Association said: “This is a good outcome and it is great to see the West Midlands police taking on this large-scale criminal racket. Keg theft is a huge cost to the industry.

“We are determined to see it tackled, and we all have a part to play. Publicans can get guidance on how to stop kegs falling into the wrong hands at our website on kegaware.co.uk​ ”

Related topics: Professional Services & Utilities

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