BURGLARS who stole more than £500,000 worth of luxury items after targeting the homes of wealthy individuals including Bury FC chairman Steve Dale have been jailed for more than 24 years.

Thomas Mee, 42, Vincent Ball, 52 and John Barlow, 58, all from Liverpool, admitted conspiracy to burgle, with their victims also taking in Manchester City star Raheem Sterling, Chester Crown Court heard.

Mee also pleaded guilty to three charges of handling stolen goods.

In October 2019, the burglars were disturbed while inside the Prestbury home of Mr Dale.

Watches worth between £300,000 and £500,000 were dropped by the intruders as Mr Dale’s son gave chase and they left the property with only a £10 note.

Ball, of Ranworth Place, Liverpool, was jailed for six years and nine months; Barlow, of no fixed address, was jailed for seven years and six months; and Mee, also of no fixed address, was handed an eight year and seven month custodial sentence.

The gang got away with huge jewellery hauls from homes across the country, as well as stealing a camera from the Buckinghamshire home of Jamiroquai singer Jay Kay.

Simon Parry, prosecuting, said: “These three defendants are a team of highly organised and sophisticated house burglars who have travelled to various parts of the UK.”

He said the three targeted the homes of “high-wealth individuals” and used sophisticated techniques such as cloned number plates and “dirty phones” to avoid detection.

The court heard the defendants attempted to burgle Sterling’s home in Goostrey, Cheshire, in November 2018.

Mr Parry added: “Fortunately the alarm system at the address activated and scared the burglars away. Nothing was taken.”

Ten days later, on November 14 2018, the three men checked into a hotel in Buckinghamshire and later Jay Kay’s home, Horsenden Manor, was targeted.

Mr Parry said the singer’s housekeeper noticed an upstairs window was open and found a camera had been stolen.

More than £550,000 of jewellery, watches and handbags was taken from 14 properties across Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire, Buckinghamshire and Warwickshire from November 2018 to October 2019.

Photos of some of the handbags were found on the phone of Mee, who admitted handling stolen goods.

Recorder of Chester Judge Steven Everett branded Mee “ignorant and selfish” for posting a letter to the home of one of his victims to express his remorse.