A PROLIFIC burglar who stole £500,000 of cars from driveways across East Lancashire has been jailed for seven years.

Police said Kevin King-Yates had been responsible for more than half of all car thefts across the county in his three-month thieving spree between November and January at properties in Accrington, Whalley, Burnley and Colne.

Vehicles stolen included a Volkswagen Golf GTD, a Mercedes AMG, an Audi A5, Audi A4 and Audi A3 Quattro, which were then driven to chop shops to be stripped down for parts.

The 25-year-old was arrested in January following Operation Arrowtooth, a targeted campaign launched by police in response to his offending.

He had been avoiding police by giving false names at hotels and moving addresses. It is believed he changed his mobile phone SIM card more than 100 times to avoid detection.

King-Yates, of Comrie Crescent, Burnley, was finally found at the Hilton Hotel in Blackpool on January 30.

Earlier this month he pleaded guilty at Burnley Crown Court to five burglaries and four motor vehicle thefts. In all but one of those burglaries he had stolen car keys from inside house and taken cars off the driveways.

Appearing in the dock on Wednesday, King-Yates, who also goes by Kevin Yates, asked for a further 51 burglaries and 32 motor vehicle thefts to be taken into consideration.

Det Sgt Phil McGauley said: “We welcome the sentence. Yates is a prolific burglar who carried out a number of offences across a three-month period in East Lancashire. We believe between mid-November and the end of January, he was linked to around 60 per cent of all motor vehicle thefts across the east of the county.

“While he admitted his involvement in nine offences, he asked more than 80 other offences were taken into consideration at court. This averaged at around one offence a day.

“He used sophisticated means to evade officers, with police launching a specific operation to help result in his arrest.

“The complexity involved in securing Yates’ arrest involved many hours of police work and I must praise my colleagues for their efforts in ensuring a relentless offender is off the streets.”

“I want to reassure the public the East Target Team is effectively and robustly identifying, targeting and bringing to justice people who commit this type of offence.

“We will not tolerate people breaking into people’s homes and taking their property, and causing them unnecessary distress.

“During this investigation we have identified a number of other people from this network of criminality and will now be focusing our attention on them.

“I would ask the public to be vigilant and report anything they consider to be suspicious or any information they may have by calling police on 101 or CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.”