Assets seized from Fagin-style crime boss

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The Independent Online

A Fagin-style crime boss who used teenagers to commit burglaries has had £100,000 of his assets confiscated, police said today.

James Roche, 37, had the money seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act in a Confiscation Hearing at Guildford Crown Court.

In November 2009 Roche of Walsham Road, Feltham, Middlesex, was found guilty of conspiracy to burgle and sentenced to five years' imprisonment.

His pivotal role in the crime was similar to the famous Fagin character in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist who used young boys to pick pockets.

He controlled the gang, most of whose members were teenage boys, and identified luxury cars and addresses to be burgled. He also handled the stolen property.

Gang members would break into homes at night and steal key fobs for the cars parked on the victims' driveways. Electronic items such as mobile phones, iPods and laptops were also stolen from the homes.

Detectives estimated the value of property stolen was £258,000, although £210,000 worth of goods was subsequently recovered. Many of the vehicles were fitted with tracker devices and were subsequently recovered by officers.

The court ruled Roche had benefited from his criminal activity and ordered him to pay the cash.

By day he had worked as an HGV mechanic but the financial investigation revealed assets of £470,000, the court heard.

Detective Inspector Richard Hamlin of Surrey police's Economic Crime Unit, said: "It is important for criminals to understand that Surrey Police is determined that crime shall not be seen to pay in Surrey.

"It requires detailed financial investigation but this is clearly worthwhile when a large sum such as this is recovered."

Nine gang members, including Roche, were convicted and sentenced in 2009.