Criminal gang locked up after mammoth thieving spree around Scarborough, Whitby and Filey

A criminal gang have been jailed for a thieving spree in which they stole from cars and work vans parked outside hotels, pubs and restaurants in Scarborough, Whitby and Filey - and even a prestigious wedding venue while the bride was getting married.

By Court Reporter
Monday, 20th June 2022, 11:11 am

Thomas Coates, 35, and John Holt, 53, from Hull, made several thieving expeditions to North Yorkshire in search of rich pickings, York Crown Court heard.

Within hours, John Holt’s partner, Sarah Holt, 42, would trawl the internet looking to get a value for the stolen goods for onward sale, said prosecutor Dan Cordey.

Coates and John Holt stole more than £12,000 of items from vehicles including power tools, jewellery, iPhones, laptops - and even an elderly woman’s bus pass.

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Sarah Holt

In January 2020, Coates and John Holt smashed their way into a car outside the Foxhound pub in Flixton.

The thieves, who had travelled in a Renault, took just over £5,000 of company equipment and personal items including laptops, a £92 designer jacket, an iPhone, a passport and a membership card for CIPD, the human-resources body.

Another smash-and-grab raid occurred outside the White Swan pub in Hunmanby in January 2020, when the thieves broke into a man’s work van and stole £2,500 of power tools.

The named victim said the “despicable” thefts had had a “massive” effect on his business and he had suffered a “big financial loss”.

John Barry Holt.

In another incident, they smashed a car window to get inside an elderly woman’s vehicle and stole her jewellery and clothes while she was at her granddaughter’s wedding near York.

The victim and the bride were “heartbroken” and the wedding day was “ruined”, said Mr Cordey.

After seven weeks breaking into vehicles across the county, Coates and John Holt were finally arrested thanks to mobile-phone cell-site technology which placed them at the scene of the thefts.

They both admitted conspiracy to steal.

Sarah Holt admitted five counts of handling stolen goods.

They appeared for sentence on Friday, June 17, following a mammoth thieving spree between December 2019 and February 2020

Mr Cordey said the elderly woman who had her jewellery stolen had been at her granddaughter’s wedding at Sandburn Hall in Flaxton four days before Christmas 2019.

She and her husband had travelled all the way from the Orkney Islands in Scotland, but what started as a “joyous” occasion turned to one of despair when the elderly couple found their car’s passenger window had been smashed and their suitcase had disappeared.

Inside the case were the woman’s handbag, £687 of clothes, personal documents and “unique” jewellery including a ring, a chain, a pendant and a pair of earrings.

She also lost credit cards, her passport, driving licence and bus pass.

The couple had to drive back to Orkney on a freezing December day with an open car window which had been smashed.

However, through her own online sleuthing, the woman came across some of her jewellery for sale at a shop in Hull where Sarah Holt had sold them.

The jeweller’s, which was unaware that the items had been pinched, showed police a driving licence which Holt had used for identification when selling the goods. #

Although those items were recovered, the woman’s earrings, pendant and ring, worth £670, were never found.

The elderly victim said she was left with a “great sadness and feeling of loss”.

She said her granddaughter was in “floods of tears” and it had ruined her evening celebrations.

In February 2020, the thieves broke into three more vehicles, including a work van with the owner’s two dogs inside, in the Selby and York areas, stealing thousands of pounds’ worth of tools, laptops and tablets. The dogs were unharmed.

The total value of the stolen items over the seven-week thieving spree was put at £12,118.

Mr Cordey said that John Holt - the gang’s ringleader who had sold some of the stolen items to Coates - had 42 previous convictions for 117 offences including many for theft and vehicle crime.

His partner Sarah Holt had four previous convictions for offences including theft and handling stolen goods.

Defence counsel for John Holt and Coates said they had embarked on their crime spree because they were financially hard up.

Ian Phillip, for Sarah Holt, said that, unlike her partner, she was in employment.

Judge Simon Hickey slammed Coates and John Holt for stealing “valuable tools from working people” and “very sentimental, irreplaceable” jewellery from an elderly woman, as well as causing “anguish (and) heartache” to a bride on her wedding day.

John Holt, of Mollinson Road, Hessle, was jailed for two years and nine months for his lead role in the conspiracy, aggravated by his appalling criminal record.

Coates, of Limerick Close, Hull, was jailed for 10 months.

Sarah Holt, also of Mollinson Road, was jailed for eight months because she too was “very close to the conspiracy”.