FIVE burglars are today behind bars for a total of 26 years and three months after being convicted for more than 80 homes across the south.

Over a period of seven months the gang raided homes stealing thousands of pounds worth of valuable possessions while attempting to cover their track.

The men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit the burglaries within Winchester, East Hampshire, Andover and the surrounding counties of Sussex, Surrey, Essex and Oxfordshire between November 2012 and May 2013.

Detective chief inspector Darren Rawlings said: “These offences were committed by a team of professional burglars operating from London and Kent who were forensically aware and highly organised.

“Dwelling burglaries can have a huge impact on the victim and the community in which they occur and therefore we dedicated a number of investigators to this series of burglaries in order to identify the people responsible and reassure the public.

“Creative, innovative and pain staking detective work was undertaken to solve these crimes and these sentences have concluded what was a lengthy and complex investigation.”

The convicted gang were Guy Harbord, 30, of Lordship Lane in Dulwich, London, who was sentenced to five years and six months; Steven White, 30, no fixed abode was sentenced to five years and six months imprisonment; Justin Collins, 35, of no fixed abode was sentenced to six years imprisonment; Leigh James Ash, 31, High Street in Sutton was sentenced to five years and three months imprisonment and finally, Liam Riley, 26, Panmure Road in Sydenham, London was sentenced to four years imprisonment.