Teen trio broke into synagogue and stole car

By Marcus Dysch, September 20, 2012

Three Jewish teenagers burgled a synagogue on a Shabbat and stole a congregant’s car.

They entered the Beth Shmuel Synagogue in Golders Green, north-west London, and took the keys for the vehicle, which was parked outside.

Brent Magistrates’ Court heard how David Gutweith, 18, and Uriel Broder, 19, who is unemployed, carried out the burglary with a third boy, who is 17 and cannot be named because of his age. All three are from Orthodox Jewish families.

Gutweith, of Woodstock Avenue, Golders Green, and Broder, of Golders Rise, Hendon, were accompanied by their fathers in court last Thursday.

Both men admitted a burglary charge, related to entering the synagogue in the early hours of June 30.

The 17-year-old had pleaded guilty to a similar charge, and an additional one of theft of a motor vehicle, at an earlier court hearing.

He was sentenced to undertake a six-month rehabilitation order, a night-time curfew for three months and ordered to pay £85 costs.

During Thursday’s hearing, Guy Saul, prosecuting, said the burglary had been a “joint enterprise”. The community uses a non-electronic key-pad system to open the synagogue’s front door. Shulgoers are given the secret code number so that they can enter the shul.

After Shabbat, a community member realised that his car had disappeared from the space where he had parked it on the Friday afternoon.

When shul officials studied CCTV images, they discovered that, at 3am on Saturday, the three teenagers had entered the building.

They had put socks over their hands to hide their fingerprints before using the key-pad to open the door.

While one of the trio kept watch, said Mr Saul, the others opened congregants’ lockers and took a set of car keys from one of them. The three teenagers then took the car and drove to Reading, where the 17-year-old sold it.

Gutweith, who now works as a shelf-stacker, later admitted having been at the shul and participating in the burglary. His motive, the court heard, was that he had recently lost his job and was short of money.

Defence lawyers claimed that it was the youngest of the three teenagers who had led the raid, obtained the key-pad code and taken the keys from the locker.

Gutweith had told his brother about the burglary, and it was the sibling who then alerted the shul to the identities of the three accused. The brother also insisted they return to Reading and buy back the vehicle, which they did before returning it to its owner.

Broder and Gutweith will be sentenced next month. They were told they could face custodial sentences.

The JC can also reveal that, in October last year, the 17-year-old admitted smashing a window at the Magen Avraham synagogue in Finchley, north London.

On that occasion, he told officers who were called to the building that he was homeless and had gone to the synagogue as he believed it was the safest place for him to stay.

He admitted a criminal-damage charge after a charge of attempted burglary was dropped. He was ordered to sign a three-month referral order, pay £85 costs, and unspecified compensation to the synagogue.

Last updated: 12:50pm, September 20 2012