Six Mexican holidaymakers went on a burglary spree across the UK after they ran out of money on a tour of Premier League football stadiums, a court heard yesterday.
They targeted homes in West Lancashire and were also linked to break-ins in Strathclyde in Scotland and Cumbria over a six-day period.
The group had initially visited the country on tourist visas last October as part of their dream to watch their footballing heroes, including Manchester United’s Mexican striker, Javier Hernandez, at Old Trafford.
Apart from one married couple, none of the offenders was known to each other before they met in a London nightclub.
Several of them spent too much on alcohol during their stay and their British tour of sporting arenas evolved into an organised-crime operation, Preston Crown Court heard.
They smashed open the front doors of properties and then ransacked bedrooms for jewellery, cash and electrical equipment.
Addresses in Carlisle, Lancaster, Morecambe, Bolton-le-Sands and Strathclyde were targeted while the owners were out between 16 and 21 November last year.
The gang was caught travelling south through Staffordshire after their getaway-vehicle details were flagged up by a member of the public who witnessed one of the raids.
Their haul was recovered, as were papers with lists of addresses and a satellite-navigation system which mapped out their travel route.
A “significant number” of properties in the Strathclyde area were programmed into the equipment.
Police inquiries were ongoing but it was likely that unclaimed stolen goods had come from the Scottish addresses.
Juan Castillo Fernandez, 28, Cuauhtemoc Fernandez Gomez, 30, and Manuel Garcia, 44, were all jailed for two years after admitting conspiracy to commit burglary.
Jose Vargas Gomez, 51, Juan Molina, 24, and Cristina Obregon, 22, were each imprisoned for 14 months after they pleaded guilty to possessing criminal property.
All six, who were living in Lewisham, south London, will be automatically deported after serving their sentences.
The Recorder of Preston, Judge Anthony Russell, QC, said he would have urged their removal regardless.
He told them: “I would have recommended deportation because in my view your continued presence in this country – whose hospitality you have abused – is contrary to the public interest.”