A GANG led by teenagers, which targeted select cars on quiet housing estates across Lancashire, drove away with vehicles totalling £500,000, a court heard.

Young burglars and car thieves, one as young as 15, worked in teams, trying front doors and car doors in targeted areas, before fleeing with the motors, Preston Crown Court was told.

Ringleader Dylan Quayle, then 17, was involved in around 40 break-ins, during the spring and summer of 2017, across East Lancashire, Chorley, Bolton and Preston.

Prosecutor Jonathan Brown said homes in the likes of Wilpshire and Langho were burgled when either front doors had been left insecured or using a 'hook and cane' method to snatch house keys.

He added: "The areas targeted were very often well-to-do housing areas, generally on the outskirts of towns. Areas where there was not a great deal of traffic late at night, particularly where, after the main hours of work, there were very few people around in the early hours."

Housing estates would be 'covered' by a number of the young men simultaneously. Often they were on the lookout for specific makes and models.

The gang would keep in contact via mobile phones, using WhatsApp messages and texts to keep each other aware of their movements, said Mr Brown.

An estimated £493,150 worth of cars were taken, with vehicles totalling £103,000 never recovered. Some of those arrested were detained after their DNA were recovered from either homes or cars.

Quayle, of Thirlmere Road, Chorley, who is now 19, has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracies to burgle and steal cars. He was said to be involved in 40 burglaries or attempted break-ins.

Phillip Sharrock, 22, Jason Booth, 23 and Joshua Penney, 21, all currently or formerly from the Chorley area, pleaded guilty to similar offences. Luke Ricardo, 19, of Tyldesley Road, Atherton, admitted to the car theft conspiracy alone. Ryan McCarrick, 20, of Victoria Road, Horwich, pleaded guilty to similar involvement.

Two teenagers from Chorley, aged 17, admitted to their roles in the operation. One17-year-old was linked to around 14 raids. The eight will be sentenced on Tuesday.