A three-man gang of Chilean thieves who entered the UK on tourist visas have raided homes in a wealthy enclave favored by footballers.
The balaclava-clad trio traveled 7,500 miles from their homes in Wilmslow and Alderley Edge in Cheshire’s so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ – but escaped with just £60.
The group’s attempts to get ‘easy money’ failed after they were caught fleeing the scene of an attempted break-in before leading police on an ‘incredibly dangerous’ 115mph motorway chase.
The dramatic pursuit, which lasted around 30 miles on the M40, saw one of the gang try to escape by jumping out of the gateway car in the fast lane before jumping over the central reservation into the path of oncoming traffic.
But Hector Paredes-Munoz, 39, his brothers Victor, 31, and Sergio Sepulveda Castro, 27, were unable to escape and all three were jailed on Friday.
Sergio Castro jailed for three years after admitting conspiracy to steal two properties in Cheshire
Brothers Hector (left) and Victor Paredes-Muñoz (right) were also jailed for three years for conspiracy to commit theft. Victor was jailed for an additional year for dangerous driving
Police said the gang arrived in the UK in late 2022 or early this year after traveling elsewhere in Europe. They later set up a base in the south of England which officials said had the ‘sole aim’ of burglarizing high-value homes across the UK.
Prosecutor Patrick Gartland told Chester Crown Court that on March 31 this year, a resident of Broadwalk in Wilmslow noticed two men wearing balaclavas in his garden and the alarm went off at his next-door neighbour’s house.
He alerted the police who contacted the occupant who was eight months pregnant and had only moved into the property a day earlier. He was not at home at that time.
She returned five minutes later to find the window to the back patio door had been forced open and £60 stolen from her bag in the kitchen.
The next day a West Bank resident, in nearby Alderley Edge, reported a masked man inside his home who quickly fled after being discovered.
Sabrina Worsley, 18, who was staying at home while her father was on holiday, was watching television in the lounge when she heard two male voices. One man climbed the stairs and another opened the lounge door before all the thieves fled.
Nothing was stolen and minutes later the three men, who were ‘behaving criminally’, were caught on local authority CCTV driving up in a black Peugeot which was parked just five minutes away.
The court was told that the first home occupier later installed £1,000 worth of security equipment in her home – after Mrs Worsley was so traumatized that her father cut short his holiday to stay with her.
Mr Gartland said: ‘Sabrina recalled feeling numb with shock and disbelief at the time of the crime and said: “I should be allowed to feel safe in my own home.”‘
He added that the Peugeot was spotted by police on the M40 in Oxfordshire the next day and was chased by officers at speeds of up to 115mph over a 29.5 mile stretch between junctions nine and four.
The car ignored all commands to stop until it suddenly braked to a stop in the outside lane and five men jumped out of the car and ran across the opposite carriageway, avoiding traffic.
The three accused were arrested by the police but the remaining two escaped as the motorway was closed.
Thieves were caught on CCTV walking through the back garden of a luxury property in Cheshire’s Golden Triangle.
Two of the group were seen leaving a property and getting into a car waiting outside
Police were able to identify Puget after finding him on council CCTV
The car was spotted by police the next day, and when they tried to pull it over, the driver began a 29.5-mile chase down the M40, causing the occupants to jump out and try to escape.
Mr Gartland said: ‘The boot of the car was searched and officers seized a balaclava, tools, shoes and a maroon hat, which can be identified from CCTV taken the previous day. All the accused were interviewed and denied involvement in the theft.’
Edmund Potts, counsel for the Paredes-Munoz brothers, said: ‘They wish to express through me how ashamed and remorseful they are and that they know they have caused significant pain to the victims. It was not their intention, but of course they take full responsibility and are very sorry for it.
‘Hector initially entered on a tourist visa and was trying to get work. He was having difficulty doing this. He received news from Chile that his mother had fallen ill and that his partner had discovered she was pregnant. He was running out of money. He had no intention of breaking the law. He admits that’s no excuse. Victor was doing cleaning jobs here and there but again, it was very difficult.
‘He has a partner, they have been together for three years. They had two children but they died young. His son mentioned in his letter is now five years old. He has a heart murmur and is awaiting surgery. It is a matter of considerable distress to Victor that he cannot return to Chile immediately.’
Sarah Badraoui, representing Castro, said: ‘He entered the country on a tourist visa in January. He was hoping to find work in hopes of finding stability and housing to move his young family here. He is married and has a daughter who is about three.
‘He said he was staying at a hotel but moved to an Airbnb where his belongings were stolen. He was left with nothing next. He was living on the street two weeks before the crime.
‘He expressed his remorse for the impact his crime had on the victims and the impact on his young family. He knows his actions have kept him from them longer than he should have. His daughter is sick. He knows it will be a custodial sentence and he hopes to return as soon as possible.’
A lawyer for Victor Paredes-Munoz, pictured here leaving Chester Crown Court in handcuffs, claimed it was a ‘matter of considerable distress’ that he could not immediately return to Chile.
A lawyer for Hector Parades-Munoz, in handcuffs at Chester Crown Court here, claimed his client committed the crime because he ‘ran out of money’.
A lawyer for Sergio Castro, pictured here leaving Chester Crown Court in handcuffs, said he ‘regrets the impact his crime has had on the victims and the impact on his young family’.
Judge Michael Leeming said the police pursuit on the M40 was ‘eye-watering’ at speeds of 115mph and ended in ‘an incredibly dangerous manoeuvre’.
He said the driving ‘fell far short’ of the standards required for a motorway and put the lives of passengers, other motorists and police at risk.
The judge said there was ‘significant’ planning for the burglary as a car was hired and tools and balaclavas were bought to facilitate the break-in.
The trio were sentenced to three years in prison on Friday after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit theft.
Victor was given a further year in prison to run consecutively and banned from driving for four years after admitting dangerous driving.
Following the sentencing, PC Kieron Marsh, of Cheshire Police, said: ‘These men are all members of an organized crime ring who came to the UK with the sole intention of committing a crime.
‘Their crimes were carefully planned, particularly targeting high-value addresses to steal as many valuables as possible before fleeing the area, leaving the country and avoiding justice.
‘Although in these two cases the gang only handles a nominal sum, their influence on the criminal trend should not be underestimated. Knowing that someone has targeted your home – a place where you should feel safe, is sickening.
‘The thought of your home being broken into, your possessions being ransacked and personal property stolen can be painful.
Det Sergeant Stephen Joyce, of Macclesfield CID, added: ‘I hope this case will serve as a warning to anyone planning to travel to Cheshire to commit a crime. Our message to them is clear, don’t spoil the journey.’
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