THIEVES who stole more than 400 car stereos before selling them on Internet auction site eBay have been collared.
Some of the stereos, all taken from Ford cars, were even advertised for sale before they were stolen.
Officers from Cheshire police's force intelligence bureau noticed a pattern in the theft of stereos in Mid Cheshire and other parts of the county and launched Operation Rejoice to crack the crime ring.
Det Cons John Thompson and Kate Connolly teamed up with other police forces across the North West and tracked the offenders, David O'Brien and Mark Kent, from Huyton, down to eBay where they were selling the stereos.
DC Thompson explained: 'These criminals operated in an incredibly professional manner and the stereos were appearing on eBay just 30 minutes after they were stolen.
'Towards the end of the investigation we discovered that in some cases stereos were even being advertised before they had been stolen and were being taken to order.
'The stereos taken were all from Fords, post 1996, and ranged from single cassette models to multi-deck CD and satellite navigation systems.
'They were even offering a fitting service and received excellent feedback from their customers on the website.
'At the height of their operation there were about 15 or 20 stereos being taken per week in Cheshire. That figure has reduced to around two or three since O'Brien and Kent were arrested and charged.
'Myself and DC Connolly put in hundreds of hours on this investigation, monitoring the internet, tracking eBay sales and liaising with other forces and we are delighted that the pair have been brought to justice.'
The pair were jailed for two-and-a-half years each while three accomplices got 12 months' community punishment.