A GANG of car thieves has been jailed for targeting homeowners in a scam worth tens of thousands of pounds.

Appearing at St Albans Crown Court on Monday, four men were sentenced for their part in the organised theft and sale of 14 high-performance vehicles worth a combined total of £155,000 between March and December last year.

Calvin McKenzie, 27, of no fixed abode, was given a two-and-a-half year sentence, and John Massie, 36, of Ashton Road, Enfield, a two-year sentence, after both admitted conspiring to handle stolen goods.

Oliver Darcy, 19, of Hammond Close, Cheshunt, was given a one-year sentence, and Craig Valentine, 20, of Temple Close, Cheshunt, a four-month suspended sentence, after both admitted to conspiracy to burgle.

They operated across Essex, including the Waltham Abbey area, and at addresses throughout Hertfordshire and London.

The gang cloned the vehicles - by using illegal replica registration number plates - to make them appear legitimate for sale to unsuspecting members of the public.

They were caught following an investigation codenamed Operation Macho by Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Group.

Detective Sergeant Amanda Smith said: “This was an organised gang who targeted the homes of those in possession of high-performance vehicles before cloning them to make them appear legitimate, and selling them on to innocent members of the public.

“Fourteen vehicles were identified as being linked to the gang and were successfully recovered. I would like to thank all the officers involved for their hard work and dedication in ensuring these men were brought to justice."

She added: “In addition to their sentences, under proceeds of crime legislation, an order is being sought to confiscate items believed to have been bought with the money made through the scam.”