A gang of organised criminals who targeted supermarkets and cash machines “with complete disregard for people’s property” have been jailed for more than 20 years.
The six men were arrested in October 2012 following a burglary spree and were sentenced last week at Northampton Crown Court.
The investigation, named Operation Embargo started in May 2012 following a series of commercial burglaries in Northamptonshire and neighbouring counties.
Commercial properties, including supermarkets, were targeted at night, with cigarettes frequently targeted, while cash machines, including those at M1 service stations, were raided.
The gang used cars stolen from other locations, along with cloned or stolen number plates in order to thwart attempts by the police to identify them.
During a court hearing in November the defendants pleaded guilty to 18 commercial burglaries and one theft of motor vehicle.
The offences dated between April 16, last year, where Waitrose, in Manor Road, Brackley, was broken into and a wheelie bin used to steal cigarettes.
On June 6, the Londis store in High Street, Hardingstone, was then broken into and cigarettes stolen.
A number of other offences included an attack on Roadchef Services, M1 Northbound, on May 14, when four of the defendants entered the services at Junction 15a wearing balaclavas and attached a long lifting strap around the cash machine at the rear of the foyer.
They attempted to pull the machine from its fittings and out of the building using a stolen Nissan Terrano vehicle.
One of the group stood in the door way of the foyer to keep the automatic door from closing while the theft was in progress.
The straps were not strong enough to pull the machine from its fixings and broke, however, the attempt still caused “significant damage” to the building.
On May 21, three of the men carried out a burglary at Harpole Village Store.
Again wearing masks, they smashed the glass to the front door of the shop and used a wheelie bin taken out of the car boot to help them to take cigarettes.
Months of investigations culminated in the sentencing of the six defendants, all from Northampton, in court on Friday. They had pleaded guilty to a number of offences in November.
Darren Burnett, aged 37, from Billing Road, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary and theft of motor vehicle and was sentenced to four years and two months.
Anthony Cowdell, aged 24, from Coverack Close, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary and theft of motor vehicle and was sentenced to four years and six months to be served concurrently.
Craig Bosworth, aged 28, from Byfield Road, pleaded guilty to burglary and was sentenced to two years and six months.
Paul Grimbley, aged 25, from Briar Hill, pleaded guilty to two offences of theft of motor vehicle and was sentenced to 12 months and four months to be served concurrently.
Gavin Burnett, aged 31, from Melbourne Walk, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary and was sentenced to four years and six months.
Carl Townsend, aged 30 from Coverack Close Northampton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary and was sentenced to four years and six months.
Detective Inspector Lorraine Gordon, who led the investigation, said: “We are satisfied with the sentences that were handed out. This was an organised criminal gang who committed numerous offences with complete disregard for people’s property.
“They caused thousands of pounds worth of damage affecting businesses and the local community. These sentences should send a warning to other criminal gangs that we will come down hard on those who think they can get away with crime.”