Three men have been sentenced to a total of more than 30 years in prison for their part in a string of attacks on cash machines across Leicestershire and neighbouring counties.
The three targeted 23 ATMs altogether, including three in the Harborough district: the cash machines at Lutterworth Post Office; the Co-op in Linden Drive, Lutterworth and the Co-op in High Street Kibworth.
They used gas canisters to blow open some of the ATMs, before using power tools to gain access to the stores to get to the cash – often making off with thousands of pounds from the cash machines.
All three had previously admitted eight counts of burglary, three counts of unlawfully and maliciously causing an explosion of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious damage to property, and one count of theft.
At Leicester Crown Court on Friday they were sentenced as follows:
Charlie Smith, 31, of Mere Lane in Bitteswell, Lutterworth: sentenced to 10 years and seven months.
Alfie Adams, 36, of Bickershaw Lane in Wigan: sentenced to 12 years.
John Doran, 20, of Gelderd Road in Gildersome, Leeds: sentenced to eight years and seven months. He was also given an additional five month sentence for breaching a suspended sentence.
The charges relate to a number of attacks on ATM machines at businesses across Leicestershire and neighbouring counties in October and November last year.
Detective Chief Inspector Martin Smalley, who led the police investigation, said: “These three men caused hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage to stores across the region, taking a very blasé attitude to their own, and the public’s safety.
“The volatile gas mixtures they used to cause the explosions could have had devastating consequences.
“These crimes were very visible in the community, and the impact felt by residents and business owners was significant.
"The reliance on these ATMs by such small rural communities was great, but the fear and discord caused by these attacks in what was often the heart of their village was much greater."
The charges relate to the below incidents in 2017:
Burglary at Kate’s Cabin, Great North Road, Chesterton, Cambridgeshire, on 28 October.
Burglary at Post Office, George Street, Lutterworth, on 28 October.
Burglary at Shell Petrol Station, Brook Street, Tring, Hertfordshire, on 8 November.
Burglary at Co-Operative store, in Rockfield Road, Monmouth, Wales, on 8 November.
Burglary at Co-Operative store in Bignal Court, Kettering, Northamptonshire on 21 November.
Theft of motor vehicle in Nuneaton, Warkwickshire, between 20 November and 23 November.
Burgle and unlawfully and maliciously cause an explosion of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious damage to property at Co-operative store in Cosby, Leicestershire, on 21 November.
Burgle and unlawfully and maliciously cause an explosion of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious damage to property at Tesco Express, London Road in Hinckley, Leicestershire, on 22 November.
Burgle and unlawfully and maliciously cause an explosion of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious damage to property at Co-operative store in Burwell, Cambridgeshire, on 22 November.
All three had other burglary offences taken into consideration:
These were: Co-Op Gun Hill, Arley, Coventry on 8 September; Co-op Linden Drive, Lutterworth on 8 September; Co-Op High Street, Kibworth on 27 September; Nationwide Greevegate, Hunstanton, Norfolk, on 27 Sept 2017; Shell garage, Princes Risborough on 3 October; Co-Op High Street, Crick, Northamptonshire on 4 October; Co-Op Main Street, Countesthorpe, Leicestershire, on 4 October; Spar, High Street, Raunds, Northamptonshire on 4 October; Co-Op, Oundle Northants on 24 October; Co-Op Oakham on 30 October; Tesco, High Street, Weedon, Northamptonshire on 1 November; High Street, Hillmorton on 1 November; Co-Op Lyndey, Gloucestershire on 10 November; Texaco Garage, Huntley, Gloucestershire on 10 November
Doran and Adams also had a burglary at Tesco express, St Ives, on 13 November taken into consideration.
Detective Chief Inspector Martin Smalley said: “At the time of these incidents there was some criticism — an opinion that little action was being taken by the police — but this wasn’t the case. In the background a number of teams using a variety of tactics were working tirelessly to identify and arrest those responsible.
"From those responding to the live incidents, through to scene preservation and investigation, it’s been a massive undertaking by the force with vital support from the East Midlands Special Operations Unit.
"It’s work we often don’t like to talk about, but rest assured this burglary series was a top priority.
“With the culprits now in prison for a very long time, we hope a sense safety and security has been returned to our communities.”