JAIL sentences have been handed to four men brought to justice after police targeted criminals involved in rural crime across Cumbria, often targeting high-value vehicles.

The crime group's targets included Land Rovers and a £35,000 motor-home, stolen from the owner's driveway in Portinscale village, near Keswick.

At Carlisle Crown Court today, a judge sentenced four men for their roles in the offending, much of which happened in the Keswick area.

Chief among them was 33-year-old Patrick Young, formerly of Firlands, Stanwix, who repeatedly attempted to sell on the vehicles he stole in the north-east. 

He was jailed for three years nine months after he admitted five vehicle thefts and five burglaries. He was banned from driving for 34 months.

Also sentenced were: 

* Scott Walpole, 31, of Curzon Street, Maryport. He was jailed for 21 months after admitting theft of a Land Rover and burglary.

* Rhys Wilkinson, 20, of Raffles, Carlisle, given one year six months for vehicle theft and dangerous driving. He was also banned from driving for a year.

* And James Benson, 45, of Firlands, Stanwix, Carlisle, sentenced to 21 months suspended for two years for vehicle theft and burglary. He must also do 150 hours of unpaid work.

Detective Constable Stuart Graham, from Cumbria Police's from the Crime and Safeguarding Team, said the men were brought to justice after a detailed and complex investigation codenamed Operation Damask.

It was launched following a spate of mostly rural crimes - involving farms and businesses - between February 2019 and October 2021 in the Keswick and Carlisle areas.

The officer said: "Cumbria is a predominantly rural county and unfortunately we have seen our rural communities targeted by opportunist criminals.

“The defendants targeted multiple businesses and farms across Cumbria, targeting vehicles and other items.

“The theft of vehicles used by farms and businesses disrupts our communities and adversely affects the local economy.

“Detectives found that the stolen vehicles were taken over to the north east and sold or some of the vehicles were recovered locally.

“I hope today’s sentences provides reassurance to businesses and rural communities that action has been taken against those targeting them.

“Burglary and the theft of vehicles will not be tolerated and those that engage in these activities face a police investigation and prosecution.

“We would like to remind people to remain vigilant to the threat of thefts and burglaries and report and suspicious persons or activity to police via our online reporting form, live chat or 101 or if a crime is occurring on 999.”