A MAN who organised robberies on lorries in South Tyneside and Herefordshire has been jailed for 12 years.
Peter Sinclair was involved in an organised crime gang from Liverpool who police said went after lorry drivers to steal large amounts of metal.
A trial at Worcester Crown Court heard how two vehicles were targeted on the same night in February 2011, including one in Jarrow.
West Mercia Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit (Socu) launched a hunt after a lorry delivering £100,000 worth of copper piping to a store in Hereford was raided.
The driver was asleep after parking overnight at the rear of the Plumb Centre when two men entered his cab, threatened him with violence and tied him up.
The pair then drove the lorry to a lay-by in Leominster, where the driver was taken into a field, held for up to four hours and his vehicle was driven away and later found burned out in Bickerstaffe, Lancashire.
On the same night, another lorry carrying a high-value amount of copper piping was targeted after the driver parked up in Amos Ayre Place, Shaftesbury Avenue, Jarrow.
Two men smashed a window in his cab and tried to get in before the driver woke up, jumped down from his bunk and fought with the pair until they ran off.
On the night of the raids, an eagle-eyed police officer in Hereford took the details of a Vauxhall Vectra he thought was parked suspiciously and passed it to those hunting the robbers.
It was traced to Liverpool, and detectives then used mobile phone records to link Sinclair and put the 33-year-old at the scene in Hereford.
Phone analysis also showed calls were made to the two men carrying out the attempted robbery in Jarrow, linking him to that crime, although the pair who attacked the cab have never been caught.
The police probe also showed that those responsible had, at some point, attached tracking devices to the lorries, so they would know where the vehicles would be parked up for the night.
Sinclair, of Knowsley Road, Bootle, was jailed after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery and conspiracy to kidnap.
Thomas Keeley, 33, and Paul Lee, 37, both from Liverpool, were cleared of the same charges.
Socu Detective Inspector Carl Moore said: “Peter Sinclair was part of an organised crime group who used violence, intimidation and threats against lorry drivers to steal large amounts of metal.”