A gang of bungling burglars who preyed on scores of pensioners were trapped by the SAT NAV they had used to find victims’ homes.
The crooks have been jailed for a total of 21 years after they left a trail of misery at the 39 different houses stealing around £100,000 worth of jewellery.
But they were finally trapped and brought to justice after police discovered a TomTom satnav they had used to plan their criminal trips to Devon and Sussex.
The stored searches also enabled detectives to link their movements to all the burglaries.
The Lithuanian gang had moved to East London to work in the building trade but turned to crime and burgled a total of 23 homes in Devon and 16 in Sussex.
Jailing them at Exeter Crown Court, a judge read several victim impact statements.
Most were elderly and lost jewellery which had been handed down through their families for generations and which they planned to pass on to their grandchildren.
One home owner rushed back from holiday because her mother had died only to find her home had been burgled.
Another victim lost a gold watch which he had given to his wife as a wedding present while another pensioner had money she had set aside to go on holiday taken.
Two homeowners also said they were so upset they planned to move.
Dainius Gastilavicius, 39, Arturas Malysovas, 21, and Tomas Paulavicius, 36, all from London, all denied conspiracy to burgle.
But the jury heard the gang operated around Britain for eight months until their arrest in March 2015.
The trio chose not to give evidence and they were found guilty in less than hour by a jury who had spent a week listening to detailed forensic evidence.
The court heard that the Satnav, DNA, phone and number plate recognition evidence was used to build up an exact picture of their movements.
Gastilavicius was jailed for seven years, Malysovas for six years, and Paulavicius for eight years by Recorder Mr James Waddington.
He told them: “Your crimes were professionally planned and carried out and involved to travelling to various areas by car and targeting homes you believed to be unoccupied.
“I have heard 22 victim impact statements which refer to items of jewellery of great sentimental value. Their loss has caused anxiety and feelings that the losers no longer feel safe in their own homes.
“They all feel violated. You have been brought to justice by a thoroughly professional and painstaking police operation by the police in Devon and Somerset and Sussex.
“The full facts make it clear these offences are much more serious than each burglary considered individually.”
During the trial he jury heard how the men were initially identified by DNA left on windows during raids in Tiverton and Paignton in Devon.
This led police to uncover their satnav exposed the full scale of their offending.
Prosecuting, Bathsheba Cassel, said:”This was a highly professional and well organised conspiracy which caused loss and distress to a large number of victims.
“The jewellery stolen was often of extremely high sentimental value. The value of the jewellery stolen in Devon alone is calculated at £90,000 to £100,000.
“More than half the victims were elderly and retired people, a number of whom were very infirm or vulnerable.”
Defence teams said the men had good work records and families and intended to return to the building trade after their release – adding they had only targeted empty homes.