Burglars who targeted the homes of sports stars and celebrities including Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling have been jailed for more than 20 years.

Thomas Mee, 42, Vincent Ball, 52, and John Barlow, 58, raked in more than £600,000 worth of jewellery, watches and handbags after raiding 14 properties.

Jamiroquai singer Jay Kay’s Buckinghamshire mansion was among homes looted by the gang, as well as the homes of Bury FC chairman Steve Dale and Mansfield Town FC owner, John Radford.

The trio, all from Liverpool, travelled hundreds of miles in a bid to hunt down hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of precious family heirlooms.

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They all admitted conspiracy to burgle at Chester Crown Court.

Mee also admitted handling stolen goods and was sentenced to eight years and seven months. Barlow was handed seven years and six months behind bars while getaway driver Ball was jailed for six years and nine months.

The gang targeted Sterling’s home in Goostrey, Cheshire, in November 2018, but fled empty handed after the alarm system was activated.

Ten days later, a camera was stolen from Jay Kay’s home, Horsenden Manor, after the singer’s housekeeper noticed an upstairs window was open.

The burglars were interrupted while ransacking the home of Mr Dale, in Prestbury on October 5 last year.

They were forced to abandon watches worth up to £500,000 as the son of the Bury FC chairman chased them away ­– and left the premises with just a single £10 note.

Police found balaclavas, binoculars, crowbars and cloned number plates in a car used by the gang when they were arrested.

Their crime spree took them across Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire, Buckinghamshire and Warwickshire between November 2018 and October 2019, the court heard.

A spokesman from Cheshire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: ‘Ball, Barlow and Mee are all members of a sophisticated organised crime gang responsible for at least 14 burglaries across England.

‘A significant level of planning and preparation went into each burglary, with the trio travelling hundreds of miles to commit the offences and specifically targeting the homes of high-profile businessmen and women, footballers and celebrities.

‘The impact of their crime spree should not be under-estimated. To know that criminals have been in your home – the place you should be able to feel most safe – rifled through your property and stole your personal possessions is sickening.

‘I hope that these convictions provide some comfort and reassurance to the victims and allows them to move forward with their lives.’

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