Around twenty officers were involved in the chase for Abraham Fox, 28, Ross Sutcliffe, 29, and 48 year-old William Lowther who sped off after catching the attention of police in a ‘suspicious looking’ stolen vehicle in the early hours of Wednesday 15 January 2020.
It came just 20 minutes after they had burgled the last of three farms they’d targeted in Plompton, near Harrogate, by snapping the locks to outbuildings in a bid to steal tools. The trio had burgled the other two properties in the village moments earlier.
After failing to stop for officers on the A1 at Wetherby they sped off in the Toyota Hilux, which had been stolen in a burglary in November, before abandoning the vehicle on the roadside.
The trio fled on foot before being spotted by the National Police Air Service (NPAS) craft’s on-board thermal imaging cameras, and being hunted down by officers on the ground including the force’s dogs section.
Footage released by North Yorkshire Police and NPAS shows the moment Lowther is caught just four miles from the burglaries by a Police Dog team hiding under a barrier of the A1.
Nonetheless, he tried to make his escape once again but was quickly detained by the police dog trying to climb a 6ft fence.
A short distance away it also shows Fox and Sutcliffe’s arrest, after being caught hiding up a tree in fields next to the A1 having discarded their shoes.
Lowther was found with a balaclava, a pair of gloves and two torches whilst discarded shoes and coats were found by the police dog shortly after.
All three were arrested and appeared before the courts where they each pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary.
On Friday 21 February 2020 at York Crown Court, Fox of Rowanwood Gardens, Bradford and Sutcliffe of Stirling Crescent, Bradford were sentenced to two years and eight months in jail, and Lowther of Copgrove Road, Bradford was sentenced to two years and four months.
Commenting on the sentence Police Investigator Pam Luettke of North Yorkshire Police’s Investigation Hub said:
Waking up in the middle of the night to see people outside your home wearing balaclavas must be one of the most terrifying ordeals you can imagine. Unfortunately, we see all too often the distressing and long-lasting impact being burgled can have on victims
These criminals thought that by fleeing and discarding their shoes they’d be able to get away with their crimes but they were no match for our officers that morning, not least our police dogs and police helicopter who quickly hunted them out and the investigation team who pulled the case together to put them before the courts.
These were organised attacks on hardworking people and whilst they admitting their guilt, the gang displayed no sense of shame for what they did and remained unapologetic throughout for the distress they caused. It is very satisfying to know that justice has been served for the victims and that Lowther, Fox and Sutcliffe are now behind bars.
National Police Air Service’s Ian Vause, Assistant Operations Director (North East and Central) said:
Using the on-board camera, the helicopter crew located all three suspects, two of which had run across a field and climbed a tree to try and avoid being detained. Crew monitored all of the suspects to ensure they didn’t escape and guided officers on the ground to them so they could arrest them.
This was a great outcome and demonstrates how the National Police Air Service (NPAS) help protect the public 24/7, 365 days a year from the air.
At the time of the arrests, North Yorkshire Police’s Commander for Harrogate and Craven, Detective Superintendent Steve Thomas, said:
This was a huge team effort between North Yorkshire Police’s Response teams, Roads Policing Group, Dogs Section, Firearms Unit, Force Control Room, Investigation Hub and greatly assisted by team at NPAS.
It was an excellent result which demonstrated policing at it’s very best – three arrested and suspected stolen property recovered. A huge thanks to all involved, and an extra mention to police dog Bobby who was celebrating his third birthday when he caught the first suspect running away and trying to climb over a 6ft fence, good lad.
Commenting on today’s sentence he continued:
This was an absolutely sterling job by all involved and I’m delighted that we’ve managed to get swift justice for the victims in this case.
I hope the sentence handed down today reassures our communities, not least our farming community, that we are absolutely committed to tackling and investigating burglaries in North Yorkshire and arresting and charging those responsible.