Thieves targeted golf clubs during first lockdown

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir September 3, 2021 08:59

A crown court has heard that a gang targeted and ram raided three golf clubs in April last year as the whole of Britain was under a coronavirus lockdown, causing extensive losses.

Newcastle Crown Court has heard that the north-east England golf courses – Close House and Ponteland in Tyne and Wear and Chester-le-Street Golf Club in Durham – were attacked in pre-planned raids.

Vehicles were bought especially for the raids, which caused tens of thousands of pounds of damage at each golf club.

Prosecutor Graham O’Sullivan told the court that Close House came under attack on April 2 when the clubhouse was ram-raided.

Around £16,000 of property was taken and £6,000 damage was caused.

Mr O’Sullivan added: “In total, an estimated £50,000 had to be spent on improved security measures and insurances.”

The court heard Chester-le-Street Golf Club was targeted three days later.

Mr O’Sullivan said: “Two men carried out the burglary, breaking into the clubhouse and using a hammer to smash a trophy cabinet and take trophies.”

The court heard the historic trophies were worth around £12,000 and many of the items had a sentimental value to the club and its members.

Some of them were later recovered after they were found in the River Wear.

Ponteland Golf Club in Newcastle was targeted on April 12.

Mr O’Sullivan said the raiders had bought a flatbed truck earlier that day and added: “It was reversed into a wall of the golf shop, causing extensive damage, £20,000 in equipment and merchandise was taken.

“The damage caused was in excess of £5,000.”

The court heard John Croft, who was one of the raiders, and his brother Geoffrey, were also seen acting “suspiciously” around Morpeth Golf Club but it was not burgled.

Croft, of no fixed address, admitted conspiracy to burgle.

Jonathan Pigford, defending John Croft, said the serial criminal had “lost his way” when he carried out the offences, which lacked “sophistication” and did not involve any intention to cause injury.

Mr Pigford added: “His behaviour could be described as reckless, cavalier and brazen.”

Robin Patton, defending Geoffrey Croft, said although the brothers share the same surname and father they were brought up separately.

Mr Patton said Geoffrey Croft stays out of trouble, has a good work record and his brother had gone to live with him after his last release from prison.

John Croft was remanded in custody and his brother was given bail until sentencing later this month.

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir September 3, 2021 08:59
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