Central England Co-op has praised the police for a successful operation that has seen three men sentenced for more than 30 years following a string of ATM attacks in Northamptonshire and surrounding counties.
Co-op stores were targeted by the gang on five separate occasions during 2017 in Lutterworth, Countesthorpe, Oakham, Kibworth and Oundle, Northamptonshire, as they used gas canisters to open the ATMs before using power tools to remove the cash.
The five incidents were part of 23 in total across the country, which saw the gang steal over £1.5 million and cause over £800,000 worth of damage.
Following a court hearing last week, Charlie Smith, Alfie Adams and John Moran received sentences totalling more than 30 years after they 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.
A spokesperson for Central England Co-op said: “The attacks on five ATMs at Central England Co-op Food Stores had a major impact on our customers and communities as these machines are often a lifeline for local people and the economy.
“We welcome the sentences and would like to place on record our thanks to Leicestershire Police who, working closely with our colleagues, conducted a painstaking and complex investigation to bring these people to justice.
“We hope this positive result deters others from committing similar crimes and showcases that we will do everything in our power to assist in bringing criminals to justice to ensure we protect our colleagues, members and customers.”
Detective Chief Inspector Martin Smalley led the investigation. He 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.
“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.
“With the culprits now in prison for a very long time, we hope a sense safety and security has been returned to our communities.”