Two drug addicts who stole £57,000 of Lego from a lorry at Watford Gap services while the driver was asleep inside, have been jailed.
Andrew Mills and Ben Barton targeted the lorry in the late-night raid on February 14, loading 1,296 boxes into the back of a Ford Transit van.
Mills, described as a “professional criminal”, instigated the raid, and paid Barton £200 to be his lookout.
Northampton Crown Court heard cocaine addict Mills had three previous convictions for identical offences, and father-of-three Barton went along with the plan to help pay off his drug debts.
Mills, aged 27, of Oldham Road, London, was jailed for three years, and Barton, aged 22, of Prospect Hill, London, was jailed for 10 months.
The court heard police had been following a van, which they believed was travelling on false plates, and when they stopped it, they found the boxes of Lego in the back.
William Falshaw, prosecuting, said: “The lorry was being driven to Toys R Us in Coventry from the Czech Republic. The driver parked at Watford Gap and went to sleep.
“He woke the next morning and found a number of cartons of Lego were missing.”
Andrew Price, mitigating for Barton, said: “He says he was the lookout, but there is the acceptance that he travelled from London, and he knew they were up to no good.
“He has debts which have built up over a drug habit, and went very quickly along with a plan to steal.”
Northampton Crown Court was also told Mills would be likely to re-offend if he was not given a drug rehabilitation order.
Sentencing the pair, Judge Richard Bray said: “This was a serious offence - the theft of £57,000 of goods from the back of a lorry, in the middle of the night. This is an all-too prevalent offence in this area. It is planned, professional crime.”
On Mills, he added: “You were caught red-handed at the scene. You had the effrontery to carry out this offence, not on a quiet road, but at Watford Gap services. The matter is seriously aggravated by your record. You are a professional criminal.”