Three neighbours travelled down from Liverpool to steal catalytic converters from Toyota garages in Crawley and Watford.
Ronnie Gilhooley, 46, and Terence McMahon, 34, hired a car and were joined by 28-year-old David Baxendale for the trip south.
Gilhooley and McMahon took five catalytic converters, worth £1,000 each, from a Toyota garage in Gatwick Road, Crawley.
They were joined by Baxendale to steal three more, again worth £1,000, from a Toyota garage in Ascot Road, Watford on October 17 last year.
Prosecutor George Heimler told St Albans crown court that security staff raised the alarm and the three were arrested in Watford.
A car-jack, a drill and a saw were recovered. Mr Heimler said: “It was a planned operation which has a measure of sophistication.”
Gilhooley and McMahon, both from different addresses in Radway Road, Hutton, Liverpool appeared for sentence having pleaded guilty to two thefts. Baxendale, also of a different address in Radway Road, appeared for sentence for one theft.
Gilhooley had 23 convictions for 63 offences, McMahon 26 convictions for 51 offences and Baxendale two convictions for three offences.
For Gilhooley, Daniel Bramhall said he had spent seven years out of trouble. Last year his recovery truck business closed because of the covid pandemic. “He has a degree of remorse. He was in financial difficulties and showed a lapse of judgement.”
David Woods, for McMahon, said he had been working in a distribution depot and had also bred dogs. “He regrets his involvement and accepts he has been foolish,” he said.
For Baxendale, Dale Beeson said his client’s record was very different and he had a limited involvement. He said he works as a labourer and had shown genuine remorse.
Judge Michael Kay QC jailed Gilhooley and McMahon for 18 months. He said: “If you brazenly plan by hiring a vehicle and come down south to commit crimes you can expect a prison sentence. If you choose to carry out this form of activity you know exactly what this result will be. “
He gave Baxendale a nine month jail sentence suspended for 18 months, telling him he had been “brought along to give a hand.” He must abide by a six month electronically monitored curfew between 8pm and 6am and attend 15 days’ rehabilitation.