A GANG of burglars responsible for 26 break-ins and attempted burglaries have been jailed for a total of more than 15 years.

The intruders ‘snapped’ the locks off UPVC doors to break into properties across Blackburn, Burnley, Brierfield, Accrington, and Nelson, during a five-month run, Preston Crown Court was told.

Prosecutors said that the gang, from West Yorkshire, were mainly interested in stealing jewellery from Asian households.

Their haul is thought to have been worth around £80,000.

Four of the gang were ‘caught red-handed’ carrying out a raid in the Wensley Fold area of Blackburn, the court heard.

An eyewitness who saw youths climbing over a fence and running towards a Mazda Premacy car managed to note down the registration number, the prosecution said.

Police later caught up with the car, as it was being driven back to the Bradford area, and the men were arrested.

Zeeshan Khan, Michael Darling, Mehtab Ahmed, and Zahir Hussain, all of Bradford, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle between Oct-ober 2011 and last February.

A fifth man, Joesel Rohman, 26, of Upper Rushton Road, Bradford, was convicted by a jury following a four-day trial.

Police in Lancashire launched an inquiry, codenamed Operation Exclude, after the four were arrested.

Using mobile phone siting experts, the police’s serious and organised crime team was able to pinpoint conversations between the conspirators at various locations around East Lancashire at the time the burglaries were occurring.

Zeeshan Khan, 19, of Tyersal Avenue, was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison, plus a four-year driving ban, for burglary, driving while disqualified, dangerous driving, and driving without insurance.

Michael Darling, 20, of Moor-lands Avenue, was sentenced to four years behind bars.

Joesel Rohman was jailed for five years, while 18-year-old Zahir Hussain, of Valley View Grove, was sentenced to 30 months in youth custody.

Detective Inspector Ian Whitehead, of Blackburn’s Target Team, said: “The gang travelled into Lancashire with the intention of breaking into people’s homes to steal valuable jewellery and other items.

“Their offending was incredibly calculated.

“In the main, they would target Asian heritage jewellery, but they would also steal valuable electrical items, and money.

“Burglary is an intrusive crime which can leave victims feeling devastated. We will continue to do all we can to reduce burglary and target those involved.”

The fifth man Mehtab Ahmed, 33, of Galloway Lane, Pudsey, will be sentenced on February 28.