THE officer leading the "complex and extensive" investigation into four men who targeted businesses and individuals throughout the city has thanked the Daily Echo and its readers in bringing the group to justice.

Senior Investigation Officer, Detective Sergeant Damon Kennard said that as a result of CCTV images of defendants Kevin Owen and Andrew Havinga appearing in the Echo's newspaper and online, members of the public helped tip Hampshire Constabulary off as to where they were hiding.

It led to convictions for Owen and Havinga, as well as accomplices Dean Higham and John Beesley, who were jointly jailed for 25 years after pleading guilty to robbing and burgling 21 businesses and individuals in just 18 days.

"A massive thank-you must be given to the Daily Echo and its readers," DS Kennard said.

Daily Echo:

PICTURED: The Daily Echo's front page on December 2, 2017

"We couldn't have bought these four men, who caused a lot of distress to the public during their campaign, to justice.

"The public helped us locate the two men in the CCTV and then we arrested them and got the convictions."

DS Kennard said more than 100 officers helped track the group as their "offending intensified", with increased patrols throughout the city and Eastleigh.

He added: "In 26 years of serving with the police this is the one case I will always remember. The crimes were constant.

"Hampshire Constabulary have a very good record at tracking down those responsible for burglaries and robberies so we hope this will deter others from trying to carry out these types of acts."

The offences all took place between November 16 and December 4.

The Daily Echo was inundated with phone calls and emails about various incidents, including robberies at Champagne Charlies, on Portswood Road, the Petrol Station at Rownhams Services and Cloud Wine in Bedford Place.

DS Kennard also praised the victims for coming forward and talking about their "harrowing" experiences.