Two sentenced after stealing thousands in ‘ruthless cross-border crime blitz’ during series of ram raids

The scene from the attempted ram raid on Isleham Co-op in April. PHOTO: John Elworthy.

The scene from the attempted ram raid on Isleham Co-op in April. PHOTO: John Elworthy. - Credit: Archant

A 19-year-old from Willingham will spend five years in an youth offenders institute after pleading guilty to being involved in a series of ram raids across the eastern region - stealing cash machines containing almost £300,000.

Police officers at the scene of the ram raid in Feltwell. Picture: Ian Burt

Police officers at the scene of the ram raid in Feltwell. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

Tony Smith, of Schole Road, Willingham, Cambridgeshire, and 26-year-old Charlie Oakley, of George Street, Shefford, Bedfordshire, were sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court yesterday (November 7).

Smith was handed a five year sentence in a youth offenders while Oakley received a six year prison sentence.

The men were arrested in April 2018 by officers from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) during a failed attempt to steal a cash machine from a store in Isleham.

In total there were eight ram raids across seven different counties, and a total of 24 offences.

You may also want to watch:

Each ATM contained thousands of pounds of cash and the raids caused more than £250,000 of damage in total to the businesses. None of the cash has been recovered.

As part of the audacious crime spree in March and April 2018, they also stole a number of vehicles such as Land Rovers and Audis, which were used to ram into the stores and as get-away cars.

Most Read

The duo pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle in relation to a number of ram raids to steal cash machines across the region.

Detective Inspector Trevor Davidson, who led the investigation for ERSOU on behalf of forces across the eastern region, said: “This ruthless cross-border crime blitz saw hundreds of thousands of pounds being stolen, not to mention the significant amount of damage caused to the businesses affected, and the multiple vehicles stolen from innocent people across the region.

“This was an incredibly complex investigation due to the large number and geographical span of the offences, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of our officers, and the close working with forces in seven different counties, we have been able to bring these criminals to justice.

“ERSOU is committed to tackling serious and organised criminals and we’re pleased to have been able to put these men behind bars, preventing any future offending from them, and hopefully sending a warning to others that you will not get away with this type of offending in the eastern region.”

A 17-year-old from Market Harborough has also pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to burgle charge in relation to the same series of ram raids and will be sentenced later on this month.

The ram raid series

Saturday March 3 – Co-Op, Church Street, Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire

A Land Rover was used to ram the store and remove the ATM machine containing a significant amount of money.

Tuesday March 20 – Co-Op, Main Road, Long Bennington, Lincolnshire

A stolen Daihatsu 4x4 is used to steal an ATM containing thousands of pounds.

Monday April 2 – Aldi, Bonds Lane, Biggleswade, Bedfordshire

A stolen Land Rover and an Audi were used in a bid to steal the ATM, on this occasion the attempt was unsuccessful.

Monday April 2 – The Guineas Shopping Centre, Newmarket

An Audi and a stolen Land Rover were used to steal an ATM containing thousands of pounds.

Wednesday April 4 – Premier Shop, Irthlingborough Road, Finedon, Northamptonshire

Offenders used a Land Rover to pull the shutters off the store before stealing an ATM containing a substantial amount of cash.

Friday April 6 – Co-Op, High Street, Fulbourn, Cambridgeshire

A number of offenders wearing balaclavas and boiler suits arrive in a stolen Land Rover and steal a cash machine.

Monday April 16 - One Stop, Feltwell, Thetford, Norfolk

Offenders arrive at the store using two stolen Audis and use a disc cutter to gain entry to the shop, before stealing an ATM containing thousands of pounds.

Tuesday April 17 – Co-Op, West Street, Isleham, Cambridgeshire

Offenders in the process of stealing an ATM are disturbed by police and fee from the scene. Lee, Oakley and Smith are subsequently arrested.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter