Prolific diamond thief Richard Calvert stole £100k of jewels in three months, Hull Crown Court hears
A DIAMOND thief who carried out raids across the north of England has been jailed for four years after stealing a £24,000 ring in East Yorkshire.
Richard Calvert, 38, stole nearly £100,000 of jewellery from shops in Leeds, York, Northumbria and Bridlington in a three-month crime spree.
He was caught after an extensive operation by police officers in Bridlington, led by Sergeant Tom Napier.
As Calvert begins a four-year jail sentence after he admitted his guilt at Hull Crown Court, Sgt Napier said: "Calvert is a criminal who has travelled the country far and wide.
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"He has gone for high-value rings and has conned his way into shop windows on the pretence of purchasing items he never intended to buy."
Calvert used an identical cover story in all his raids. He would dupe shop staff into thinking he was looking for another piece of jewellery before grabbing his original target, the shop's most expensive item.
But the net began to close in after he stole from Griffins Jewellers in Prospect Street on Saturday, January 21, last year.
He walked in and asked the female shop assistant if he could see a pair of earrings on display in the window.
Calvert and the woman went outside so he could point out the earrings.
Once back inside, she showed him the jewellery up close.
But he knocked the tray from her hands before asking for the earrings to be wrapped, pledging to come back and buy them later.
As the woman returned the items to the window, she noticed a ring worth £24,000 had been stolen.
Cast in 18ct white gold, it featured a 4ct brilliant cut diamond in the centre, surrounded by 78 other cut diamonds.
Calvert did not return to the store and the shop assistant alerted police to the theft.
Her description, coupled with CCTV images and the method used by Calvert in the crime, meant Sgt Napier was able to cross-reference it with other crimes committed in jewellery shops around the country.
Police trawled through hours and hours of CCTV footage, eventually finding a car linked to some of the raids.
Sgt Napier said: "We linked the Bridlington job with other jobs in Yorkshire.
"As a result, we managed to identify a car through extensive CCTV inquiries.
"We came back and re-examined CCTV here and we issued a bulletin to all other forces nationally with a picture of our suspect."
Sgt Napier was put in charge of the whole operation. Calvert acted alone in Bridlington but it quickly became obvious he had an accomplice in the Leeds theft.
His accomplice, James Stephenson, 75, was picked up first and was later sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for a year.
Calvert went on the run in a desperate attempt to evade capture but was eventually arrested in his home town of Guisborough, near Middlesbrough.
Sgt Napier said: "Calvert was brought to Bridlington quite quickly and then we had the issue of identity parades between Humberside, North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Northumbria and Middlesbrough."
Calvert pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years in prison at Hull Crown Court.
Sgt Napier said: "Police made numerous enquiries across forces and successfully identified this travelling criminal and his accomplice.
"This is a positive result and will keep this man from committing such offences for a substantial period of time.
"This was not just random offending but pre-planned."