Seven men have been sentenced for their parts in the handling and sale of stolen machinery worth over £1 million.

Three of the men, including a pair of brothers, have been jailed, with the other four handed suspended sentences, Lancashire Constabulary said.

A total of 46 plant machines were stolen, mainly from across North West England between 2015 and 2018, and were then sold on to a gang that operated out of an industrial unit in Nelson where the stolen goods were modified to hide their identification numbers.

The gang in Nelson then sold the machines on to buyers across Europe and, in some cases, as far away as Australia.

The force said the machines were valued between £8,000 and £105,000 each with the total value estimated to be around £1.3 million. The members of the gang all appeared at Preston Crown Court yesterday (March 7) for sentencing.

The men and their sentences are:

  • 34-year-old Max Wynn – eight and a half years in prison;
  • 47-year-old Richard Wynn – eight and a half years in prison;
  • 44-year-old Karl Langley – two years in prison, suspended for 18 months;
  • 33-year-old Alex Grice – five years and 11 months in prison;
  • 41-year-old Craig Douglas – 18 months in prison, suspended for 18 months;
  • 53-year-old Gavin Mellor – two years in prison, suspended for 18 months;
  • 72-year-old Ian Mellor – 10 months in prison, suspended for 18 months.

Most of the men hold addresses in Burnley, apart from Max Wynn (Wigan) and Ian Mellor (Ruthin); Craig Douglas’ address is unknown.


The force said its investigation was launched after the victim of a digger theft noticed that an identical vehicle was being sold from the gang’s unit in Nelson.

Officers attended the unit and, although the digger had been moved on, they found Max Wynn and Alex Grice in the act of cloning another stolen machine.

The court heard that Max Wynn was the “driving force” behind the stolen machinery operation.

The force said he was the director of the company that bought and sold on the stolen machines and his name was on the lease of the industrial unit in Nelson.

In total, Wynn is believed to be connected to the handling and sale of all 46 stolen machines. The money from the sales was then laundered and transferred to his friends, family and associates.

Wynn originally pleaded not guilty to the counts put to him, but later admitted conspiracy to handle stolen goods, entering a money laundering arrangements and converting criminal property on November 16, 2022.