RAIDERS who committed a spree of burglaries across Dorset and Hampshire have been jailed.

Ricky Severn and Darryl Clarke burgled 12 businesses on dates between February 19 and March 15 this year.

Police linked the crimes following an extensive investigation into a spate of break-ins.

Ten stores in Southampton, Eastleigh, Netley Abbey and Basingstoke were affected. The men also targeted two businesses in Wimborne on the same night.

A large number of cigarettes were stolen from Central Convenience Stores in Bayard Place, Wimborne, just before 3am on March 15. The alarm at the Locus store in Wimborne Road West was de-activated on the same day. However, the men didn't manage to force their way inside the business.

In total, police believe goods worth £100,000 were taken. Severn and Clarke mainly stole cigarettes, although on one occasion they stole clothes worth £65,000 from a store in Above Bar Street, Southampton.

Each burglary was carried out in the early hours of the morning. The men wore masks and scarves to cover their faces before forcing their way into the properties using crowbars. They then stuffed cigarettes into industrial rubble bags, which were thrown in the back of stolen cars on cloned plates

Investigators believe the cigarettes were sold on illegally.

The men used five cars as getaway vehicles. Each has been found and seized as part of the investigation.

Officers cracked the case when Clarke's DNA was found at the scene of a burglary in Basingstoke, Hampshire.

When he was arrested, his phone was forensically examined, and Severn's number was found under an alias. This allowed police to link key conversations between the pair before, during and after all of the burglaries.

Soon after, Severn was arrested at Luton Airport following a holiday in Malta.

Severn and Clarke admitted conspiracy to burgle at Southampton Crown Court last month. Severn, 32 and of Alder Road, Southampton, was sentenced to four and a half years in prison. Clarke, 29 and of Summit Way, Southampton, was also sentenced to four and a half years, as well as a further three years for handling stolen goods. He will serve both concurrently.

Detective Constable Chris Orr from the Western Investigation Team said: “Severn and Clarke were part of a very organised network of criminals who make their living from crime.

“I am hopeful that Severn and Clarke’s jail terms will show those within their communities who look up to them, that should they commit crime like this, they will also be caught and brought to justice.”