Last of three east London thieves stealing fire station life-saving gear is sentenced
PUBLISHED: 23:52 26 August 2016 | UPDATED: 11:20 27 August 2016
The last of three thieving conspirators who broke into fire-stations stealing emergency equipment to smuggle abroad for cash has been sentenced today.
The east London gang stole £100,000 of Fire Brigade equipment that is used by rescuers to locate anyone trapped in a fire.
They broke into fire stations in an area across east London from Whitechapel and Hackney out to Stratford, Ilford, Romford, Hornchurch, Barking and Dagenham, as well as in north London, south London and Dartford in Kent.
“This was life-saving equipment they stole,” London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said. “These thefts potentially could have had an impact on our ability to respond to rescue anyone needing our help.”
The last of the trio to be collared was Jermaine Okakpu, who was sentenced today at Basildon Crown Court to two years, suspended for 21 months, and ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service.
The 26-year-old from Evelyn Road in Silvertown admitted being involved in eight of the fire station break-ins when he pleading guilty to conspiracy.
His two accomplices were jailed earlier this year after being arrested when police stopped their vehicle in Silvertown last September following a tip-off. Officers found a battery for a thermal-imaging camera in the vehicle, stolen the same day from Lewisham fire station.
Luke Sixsmith-Hughes, a 22-year-old from Driffield Road in Bow, and Jack Edwards, 20, from Sark Walk in Silvertown, had hit 24 fire stations in a crime spree in August and September last year.
They stole two-way radio sets and thermal-imaging cameras used by rescuers to see through fires if anyone is trapped, all to sell abroad. Some fire-stations were broken into more than once.
Okakpu was identified in the conspiracy during investigations following the arrest of Sixsmith-Hughes and Edwards and was later arrested himself.
Police Det Sgt Robert Walls said: “These men showed total disregard for the potential impact these losses could have had on the ability of the fire service to respond to emergencies and critical incidents.
“The most-frequently stolen items were thermal imaging cameras used to locate those trapped in fires and to stop fires spreading.”
Sixsmith-Hughes and Edwards pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to commit burglary and were each jailed for three years.