THREE men who burgled homes in the run-up to Christmas last year will spend their festive season this year behind bars.
Robbie Cook, 25, of Malvern Way, and a scaffolder, 29-year-old Tony Cook, also of Malvern Way, along with 21-year-old Kieran Holland, of Magdalen Road, St Leonards, were sentenced at Hove Crown Court.
They were each sent to prison for their parts in burglaries committed in Rye, Winchelsea, Pett, Guestling, Three Oaks, Netherfield, Broad Oak and Heathfield in November and December 2010.
The spate started with daytime burglaries in Heathfield and Pett, but were not initially linked.
However, as more burglaries took place, eagle-eyed witnesses allowed police to identify that a distinctive Land Rover Freelander was emerging as a common thread. The vehicle had non-standard alloy wheels and blacked out windows and had been seen near the scenes of burglaries in Guestling, Three Oaks and Netherfield, where a witness noticed that the spare wheel cover had a Staffordshire bull terrier design.
On November 24 last year, there was a road rage incident in Queens Road between a lorry driver and the driver of a Freelander.
Police arrived and arrested Robbie Cook on suspicion of assault.
With him was his brother Tony and Holland. In the back of the Land Rover officers found a wheel cover depicting two Staffordshire bull terriers.
Police started a lengthy investigation.
Shortly after the road rage incident the Freelander was sold and the series of burglaries came to a stop.
However, in early December last year, three more occurred in Battle, Rye and Winchelsea.
On December 10, police searched addresses in Hastings, Heathfield and Eastbourne and recovered computers, mobile telephones, televisions and cameras stolen in the burglaries.
Officers even found a pillow case hidden up a tree in the garden of the Heathfield home containing jewellery with great sentimental value for the victims.
The three men were arrested and charged and pleaded guilty when they appeared in court.
On Friday, Robbie Cook was sentenced to four-and-a-half years for burglary, handling stolen goods and a separate drugs offence.
His brother Tony Cook got three years for burglary and handling and Holland received three-and-a-half years in jail for burglary.
Kay Ingrams, 26, of Court Road, Eastbourne and Kim Lewis, 47, of Emmanuel Road, Hastings, pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods and received community sentences.