BURGLARS who posed as golfers to carry out up to 60 raids on clubhouses - including seven in North Yorkshire and the North East - have been jailed.
The National Crime Agency believes Daniel Lloyd and Joe McCaughey could have raided up to 1,000 lockers and stolen equipment worth more than £750,000 in a 16-month spree across 17 counties ranging from Devon to Northumberland.
The pair, who were found guilty of conspiracy to burgle at Birmingham Crown Court, dressed in golf attire, chatted to golfers and duped members of staff to access to changing rooms.
They then examined the handicap scores on the members’ lockers and targeted elite golfers in the belief they would have more valuable clubs and clothing.
The pair came to the attention of the agency following an investigation into a corrupt criminal defence lawyer, who was sentenced last year for perverting the course of justice.
Lloyd, one of the lawyer’s friends, was arrested during the inquiry, and when officers searched his £800,000 home they found he drove Bentley and Range Rover cars, but had no tax records to support his claim he was a businessman.
They also found evidence on his computer of internet searches for golf club thefts, locker security and lock picking.
Steve Baldwin, the agency’s head of regional investigations, said: “These men were professional burglars who tried to mask their identities by avoiding CCTV cameras, changing their clothes to enter the same clubs over and over again, and using false number plates on their vehicles.
“We proved they had stolen equipment from hundreds of golfers, which they disposed of here and overseas.
“Our focus is now the financial side of the investigation and stripping them of their assets.”
Lloyd, 43, of south-east London and McCaughey, 26, of Croydon, were sentenced to five and three years’ jail respectively.
A Middlesbrough Golf Club spokeswoman said members had been very upset following the raid and that security had since been stepped up.