Lock-snapping gang targeted home in Kingsteignton

Monday 18th January 2016 2:48 pm
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A Lithuanian gang who allegedly carried out 23 ’lock-snapping’ raids across Devon were trapped after two of them left DNA at a house in Tiverton.

The three men allegedly broke into a total of 39 houses all around Britain during an eight-months crime spree, during which they repeatedly targeted Devon.

Their victims included home owners in Tiverton, Exeter, Exmouth, Honiton, Kingsteignton, Kingsbridge, and Torbay, a jury at Exeter Crown Court was told.

Detectives were able to link their movements to the crimes by a Satnav trail, their use of phones, and evidence from number plate recognition cameras.

An iPad stolen from a house in Tiverton was also traced by Apple and found being used by a friend of two of the men in Lithuania, the jury was told.

Arturas Malysovas, aged 31, of South Esk Road, London; Dainius Gastilavicius, aged 39, of Worcester Road, East London, and Tomas Paulavicius, aged 36, of Raydons Road, Dagenham, all deny conspiracy to burgle.

Bathsheba Cassel, prosecuting, said the men all specialised in a particular form of burglary known as lock snapping, which was a common feature of the 23 raids in Devon and 16 others in Sussex, Suffolk and Lincolnshire.

She said the men were traced after DNA was found at the scene of a burglary at Peard Road in Tiverton which identified Gastilavicius and Paulavicius as being present.

Another DNA hit from a burglary at Paignton identified Malysovas and phone records showed regular contacts between them.

Tools which could be used in drilling out and snapping locks, a locksmith’s catalogue, a videoscope, skeleton keys and gloves were found when they homes were searched.

Miss Cassel said the evidence against the men came from a variety of different sources and built up to create a compelling picture of at least one of them taking part in each of the raids.

She said: ’All the burglaries involved a similar and unusual modus operandi known as lock snapping, that is the snapping and removal of door locks to get into properties.

’Our case is that these defendants, and possibly others, conspired together. The case fits together like a jigsaw with a number of little pieces of evidence linking together to create a very clear picture.’

She said the DNA evidence against two of the men came from a swab found during a forensic examination of a burgled home in Peard Road, Tiverton, in October 2014.

In other cases evidence from Paulavicius’s Tomtom satnav placed his car very close to the scenes of the burglaries and phone records showed the men were in the areas at the relevant times.

It showed the first visit to Devon was on July 15, 2014, when Paulavicius’ car left London and the satnav took them to Hill Crescent, Honiton, at the time when two burglaries took place at nearby Pine Grove.

The trips to either Devon or West Sussex continued weekly, with further raids in Gloucester Road, Exeter, Exmouth, Kingsteignton, Tiverton, Brixham, Paignton, Dartmouth and the South Hams.

Police enlisted the help of Apple to trace an iPad stolen one of the Tiverton raids. It was being used by someone in Lithuania whose number was found in the phones of two of the men.

Miss Cassel said further evidence came when Paulavicius and Malysovas were arrested in Cleveland.

She said: ’In the car police found the satnav and a number of tools which could be used in burglary, a videoscope, drill, a set of skeleton keys, binoculars, and gloves.

’At a home address police found mobile phones, multiple SIM cards, keys, a locksmith’s catalogue, and a lock-picking kit. Two of the SIM cards were identified as coming from lock-snapping burglaries.’

The trial continues.

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