Five men have been jailed for a total of 22 years after a string of ram raids and burglaries in which more than £400,000 was stolen and £250,000 of damage caused.
Albert Smith, 38, of Common Road in Potton and Alfred Stanley, 37, of Sandon Close in Sandy were part of the gang that carried out raids at 12 banks and six burglaries in a nine-month crime spree.
They used JCB vehicles to smash into businesses before ripping out cash machines, used cutting equipment to help themselves to more cash and escaped in vehicles they had plundered in burglaries across the region.
In total, they got away with £301,560 from cash machines and stole cars and jewellery worth more than £100,000.
The offences took place across Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.
Albert Smith, Alfred Stanley, Joseph Upton, 43, of Murrow Lane, Parsons Drove, Wisbech and John Smith, 39, of Small Lode, in Upwell all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle and conspiracy to steal motorvehicles between January and October 2012.
John Christopher Smith, 23, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle.
They were caught following a lengthy investigation launched in August 2012 by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU).
By September 2012 a covert surveillance operation was underway and teams from ERSOU were following the members of the gang.
The group targeted homes in order to steal vehicles for use in the ATM offences.
The number of such offences has reduced dramatically since the arrest of these offenders and we’re pleased they have now been brought to justice.Temporary Detective Sergeant Stuart Dolan
They would disguise the vehicles by obtaining false number plates and then effectively hide them in plain sight for later use.
As a result of the surveillance operation, ERSOU was able to gather evidence of the preparatory work of the group.
On October 16, 2012 a ‘trap’ Ford Ranger was stolen from a car park in Cambridge.
This car was taken back to the area of Potton traveller site, near to Albert Smith’s home, and then later taken to a traveller site in Cambridgeshire where Joseph Upton lived.
The same day, the group was responsible for disguising a stolen Audi, which was later used during a violent robbery at an isolated farmhouse in Bedfordshire five days later.
Four members of the gang – all except for John Smith –had each been jailed in 2013 for 10 years for that crime.
After they were convicted, ERSOU began investigating them for further offences.
Temporary Detective Sergeant Stuart Dolan said: “They caused misery for the burglary victims as well as causing a huge amount of damage to shops and banks across the region.
“The number of such offences has reduced dramatically since the arrest of these offenders and we’re pleased they have now been brought to justice.”
They were sentenced as follows at Cambridge Crown Court on Tuesday:
Joseph Upton jailed for five years; John Leonard Smith four years and nine months; Alfred Stanley Smith four years; Albert Smith four years and nine months; John Christopher Smith three-and-a-half years.
The sentences will run consecutively to the other jail terms.
The video reproduced here shows John Leonard Smith and Albert Smith taking a stolen Audi which was later used in a violent robbery. They were jailed for 10 years for the offence (baseball cap is Albert Smith, John Leonard Smith is wearing hooded top).