He’s stuffed! Romford man sentenced for stealing £100k of taxidermy animals
PUBLISHED: 09:06 05 April 2017 | UPDATED: 09:06 05 April 2017
A burglar who stole £100,000 of stuffed animals, including lions, a sloth and even a chimpanzee in a top hat, has avoided jail time.
Jason Hopwood, of Drummond Road, Romford, was given a suspended sentence of 21 months’ imprisonment at Kingston Crown Court yesterday.
He was also ordered to work 200 hours community.
Hopwood had earlier admitted burglary and using false car registration plates.
On March 1 last year, at about 7.30pm, thieves used angle grinders to force their way into the Wimbledon Stadium Business Centre, in south London.
They made off with antiques and 18 stuffed animals, which valued around £100,000.
Three weeks later, after a tip off, Essex Police found the abandoned van in Stapleford Abbots.
There were sticky patches on the registration, where the fake plates had been attached, and it had all of the taxidermy animals inside.
Jason Hopgood was identified as the owner, but when questioned he claimed he had sold the van and denied any knowledge of the burglary.
However officers found a parking ticket on the day of the burglary, issued outside Hopwood’s Romford address with the fake registration number.
Analysing Automatic Number Plate Reader (ANPR) files, police established Hopwood had driven the van to the taxidermy warehouse the day before the crime.
He was arrested in September and admitted his role in the burglary.
Det Con Stuart Goss, from Wandsworth CID, said it was an “investigation which will stay with me for years to come”.
He added: “This was a complex and challenging case and I was helped by colleagues across the Met and Essex Police. I would also like to thank the media, as I am sure reporting of our appeal forced the criminals to abandon the stolen goods.
“This was not a random crime, this was a criminal enterprise and Hopwood was well equipped and well prepared. I am very proud to have been able to reunite the victim with these valuable animals and bring Hopwood before the courts.”
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