A judge has criticised footballer John Terry for posting photographs of his holiday on social media, after a gang of burglars took to the opportunity to mount a raid on his home.
The burglars, struck at the former England captain’s Surrey mansion making off with £400,000 worth of designer goods, after spotting that he and his family were out of the country on a skiing trip.
Sentencing them to almost 28 years for that and a string of other similar raids, Judge Susan Tapping said it might have been a mistake for the footballer to advertise the fact he was not at home.
The thieves took designer handbags belonging to Mr Terry’s wife, Terri Poole, worth £126,00, more than £220,000 of jewellery and rare signed first edition Harry Potter books valued at £18,000.
They also made off worth £30,000 in cash and a £5,000 replica trophy, none of which has ever been recovered.
Not content with the original haul, the thieves returned with an unidentified man and an angle grinder, in an attempt to get into the safe.
At one point CCTV footage showed three men wandering around the property with axes in hand then going back into the master bedroom up a ladder.
However the noise of the angle grinder woke the housekeeper and he was able to raise the alarm.
The raids came after the footballer posted pictures in February from the French Alps to his 3.4 million Instagram remarking that he was having a “great few days away skiing with the family”.
The judge said: “It might have been a mistake to post a family photograph on social media to show that he was away on holiday. His home was deliberately targeted and the master bedroom suite was ransacked.
“They spent some time searching for items to steal. Not content with the original haul they returned with a third man and an angle grinder determined to get into the safe.”
As well as Mr Terry, the gang also targeted multi-millionaire businessmen ,Alfie Best, dubbed the gypsy king, stealing almost £150,000 worth of luxury goods from the six bedroom mansion in Windlesham, Surrey.
They were responsible for a further five burglaries across Surrey and Sussex earlier this year stealing a total of £600,000 in the seven raids.
Not all the burglaries were at night and some were carried out while someone was in the house, including a recently widowed woman who found one of them in her kitchen.
The court heard she has now been left feeling “nervous and isolated in her own home”.
The judge said: “The mental turmoil may be harder to heal fully rather than a physical injury. All these victims have the right to feel safe in their own homes.”
The court heard each of the defendants have a long history of offending.
Darren Eastaugh, 30, Joshua Sumer, 27, Roy Head, 28, and Oliver Hart, 25, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit burglary between February 1 and March 27 this year.
After sentencing, Surrey Police Detective Constable Phil Carter, the officer in charge of the case, said: “The loss to victims was substantial, with a total value for the seven offences in the region of £600,000.
“High-value homes were targeted, some with occupants present during the offences, which is likely to have been very upsetting for them.
“I welcome the sentences handed down today. They reflect the very serious nature of these offences. This was a complex investigation completed with help from the Flying Squad whose assistance proved crucial in securing the defendants’ guilty pleas.”