ST. LOUIS — Two men were sentenced Thursday in a prolific car break-in ring that police blamed for hundreds of thefts in the city over the past several years.
Lamonte Brown, 35, of St. Louis, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Jason Holmes, 39, received a 15-year term. They were sentenced by Circuit Judge Annette Llewellyn, who called the pair "a menace to the city."
They pleaded guilty in May to dozens of charges including robbery, stealing, property damage and car theft.
Brown and Holmes were charged last year after police raided several homes in the city and county and found hundreds of stolen items. The stolen property was tracked to crimes that spanned years, crossed state lines and accounted for a significant portion of car break-ins in the city’s downtown neighborhoods, police have said.
The ring targeted vehicles with out-of-state plates, which means many of the victims were visiting St. Louis, police said. Investigators estimated the value of stolen property at more than $60,000. Stolen items included purses, luggage, jewelry, laptops cellphones and other electronics.
Brown and Holmes apologized Thursday in court for their actions.
Police said they spent tens of thousands of dollars and more than 100 hours conducting months-long surveillance to link six suspects to more of the break-ins. Police suspected the ring was selling the stolen goods online as well as using items themselves.
Three others in the ring, Khatira Hunt-Rogers, Phillip Devine and Janson Dotson, pleaded guilty in the case and received probation or treatment court. A case was dropped against a sixth defendant. Police believe Brown and Holmes would break into cars in the city, and take the stolen property to Hunt-Rogers’ home. She was Brown’s girlfriend.