Four men have been jailed for a ram raid on an electrical store where one of them worked.

Leeds Crown Court heard James Whitehouse claimed it had been a joke when he first suggested the burglary at his employers Power Electrical on the Ravensthorpe Shopping Park in Ravensthorpe after receiving a text from a friend about how to make some money before Christmas 2014.

Jailing him and his three co-accused Judge Penelope Belcher told him if it had been limited to just a remark it might have been a joke “but this went far beyond that.”

Chloe Fairley, prosecuting, said Whitehouse and Mark Philip Green “hatched a plan to burgle the store but in order to do so they needed a van and extra manpower.”

A Ford Transit van was stolen by Green and Lance Cook from outside a shop in Bradford on November 17, 2014 and Cooke’s brother Lee was also recruited on the day of the burglary to help.

About 10pm on December 3, 2014 the van bearing false number plates was used to carry out the ram raid first damaging the gate in the perimeter and then it was reversed into the roller shutter.

The burglar alarm was activated and the alarm company notified a director who arrived to discover a washing machine dumped outside the property and other items stolen.

The retail park in Ravensthorpe, scene of big disturbance
The retail park in Ravensthorpe, scene of big disturbance

However the van was traced to outside Whitehouse’s home in Mirfield. It was found with another set of number plates on it but with the stolen property inside.

The director of the business estimated the damage, theft and loss of business had cost them £9,500 and was part of the reason for the store subsequently relocating elsewhere.

Mr Anastasis Tassou, for Green, said his motivation at the time was to get money to buy Christmas presents for his children. “His priorities were wrong and he deeply regrets what he has done.”

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James Littlehales, for Whitehead, said he clearly should have thought about his family sooner.

Lance Cooke, 27, of Rawfolds Avenue, Birstall, was jailed for 30 months and Green, 28, of Gordale Close, Batley, was jailed for 24 months after they admitted the theft of the van and burglary.

Lee Cooke, 32, of Thurley Road, Bradford was jailed for 21 months and Whitehouse, 26, of Orlando Close, Mirfield, was jailed for 16 months after they each admitted burglary.