SEVEN ‘armed and extremely dangerous’ men have been convicted of a string of aggravated and car-key burglaries and a robbery across North Worcestershire and the West Midlands.
West Mercia Police caught those responsible as part of Operation Vespula, set up in direct response to the 17 incidents which took place between April 26 and June 9.
Romsley and Hagley were among the areas targeted by the violent thieves.
After a two-week trial, Mohammed Islam was found guilty of aggravated burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, conspiracy to commit theft of motor vehicles and Rikesh Chauhan was found guilty of conspiracy to steal motor vehicles.
Dequan Wright, Haiden Kerr, David Shaikh and Aaron Gallagher previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, conspiracy to commit theft of motor vehicles.
Wright and Kerr also pleaded guilty to robbery and Ryan Steatham pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to commit theft of motor vehicles.
Det Sgt Scott Chivers said: “The local community in Hagley and Romsley were understandably concerned as not only were these men stealing from them, they were doing so armed and were extremely dangerous.
“Our team worked tirelessly with the victims and the evidence to build a good case against the seven men.”
Sgt Ian Heeks, from Rubery Police Station, said Safer Neighbourhood Team officers worked closely with Hagley, Rubery, Alvechurch and Wythall communities, day in, day out, to deter and disrupt hardened criminals who think the West Mercia Police area is a soft target.
“I hope these convictions demonstrate that where organised gangs do decide to come to North Worcestershire – they will be caught.”
The seven are due to be sentenced next month.
Many North Worcestershire towns and villages are ‘We Don’t Buy Crime’ areas where signs are displayed to let criminals know deterrent and protection measures are in place, such as SmartWater.
Last year Wythall became West Mercia’s largest We Don’t Buy Crime village with more than 3,000 of the forensic property marking kits now registered by residents.
SmartWater – with its unique DNA style code – increases the chance of thieves being caught and convicted.
Residents can find out about the latest crime prevention schemes for their areas and keep in touch with their local police teams by signing up to the force’s new Neighbourhood Matters messaging service at www.neighbourhoodmatters.co.uk.