An organised crime gang behind a £250,000 series of attacks on cash machines around the Midlands is behind bars today, as new footage shows their raids around the region.
The gang would tie straps around freestanding ATMs before ripping them out using vehicles on cloned plates.
Hospitals, train stations, shops and cafes were targeted by the thieves, who carried out detailed reconnaissance of their targets.
Targets of the gang’s spree of 11 burglaries and attempted burglaries included:
• 15 March 2018 - The gang used cutting equipment to break into Spar in Tamworth before ripping out the cash machine
• 24 September 2018 - The gang cut bollards to get into Birmingham’s Cannon Hill Park, where they dragged a cash machine from the Midlands Arts Centre
• 29 September 2018 - The inside of a Post Office in Lichfield is destroyed when the gang drag the cash machine through it. The gang put tape over CCTV cameras
• 17 October 2018 - The masked gang walk into Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth hospital before loading an ATM onto a trolley and walking out, past members of the public.
• 6 December 2018 - A cash machine at Warwick Hospital is stolen.
• 27 January 2019 - Security guards have to dodge out of the way of the gang’s van after they are disturbed at a cash and carry in Birmingham
But a major West Midlands Police operation brought the gang down thanks to a combination of CCTV, forensics and phone analysis.
The gang’s downfall began when they were forced to abandon a Transit van they were using as a getaway vehicle, following a pursuit. Forensic tests on that, and a fingerprints left on a trolley they’d dumped at one crime scene, helped police identify suspects. Ringleader Craig Matthews, who has 19 previous convictions spanning 49 offences, left his DNA on a piece of tape used to cover cameras in Lichfield.
He was also forensically linked to a registration plate on one of the vans.
Police uncovered CCTV of him examining a cash machine while unsuspecting passengers went about their business at Rugby train station.
Days later - there was an unsuccessful attempt to steal the machine.
The gang was arrested at the beginning of this year and went on to admit conspiracy to commit commercial burglary.
Today they were sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court.
• Craig Matthews, 42, of Benmore Avenue, Edgbaston, Birmingham was jailed for eight years and seven months.
• David Bradley, 28, of Wappenbury Road, Wood End, Coventry, was given five years.
• Kenneth Bourne, 38, of Nuneaton Road, Fillongley, was jailed for six years.
• Shane Stajsavlijevic, 36, of Hermes Crescent, Henley Green, Coventry, was jailed for seven years and two months.
• Charlie Ward, 27, of Pepys Corner, Tile Hill, Coventry, was handed five years.
DCI Annie Miller, who oversaw the operation, said: “This was sophisticated organised crime which showed a huge amount of planning.
“While no one was hurt during the spree, the gang left a trail of destruction which left victims facing huge bills.
“Thanks to great police work, we were able to build up a detailed picture of the gang, their vehicles, reconnaissance and movements.
“We’re continuing to work with the cash machine industry to help increase security to reduce the risk of them being targeted by criminals in this way in the future."
The industry has launched a drive called Secure ATM, including sprays that identify thieves for up to five years after an attack, dyes that are sprayed on cash during an attack and kits which can neutralise gas which can be used to blow up machines.
Marc Terry, International Managing Director for Cardtronics, which owned some of the cash machines targeted, said: “Let these sentences be a warning for anyone out there contemplating an attack on our Secure ATMs.
“These results show that our Secure ATM initiative is exceptionally effective in helping the police track down, catch and send to jail those who attempt to attack Cardtronics machines.
“Congratulations and our thanks go to West Midlands Police for their excellent work in helping us to protect access to cash for local and rural communities, who rely on ATMs for basic banking services.
"Our work does not stop here - we are fighting to protect access to cash across the whole of the UK and will not rest until ATM crime is eradicated and ceases to be a threat to communities and their residents. Those considering an attack should think again, as they will be caught and sent to jail for a very long time."