Shefford man sentenced after £300,000 ram raid spree

Tony Smith, from Willingham, and Charlie Oakley from Shefford, have been sentenced to six years in

Tony Smith, from Willingham, and Charlie Oakley from Shefford, have been sentenced to six years in prision after being convicted of eight ram raids including ones in Biggleswade and Gamlingay. Picture: Bedfordshire Police - Credit: Archant

A Shefford man has been sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted of stealing cash machines containing nearly £300,000 in eight ram raids in Biggleswade, Gamlingay and more.

Charlie Oakley, 26, of George Street in Shefford carried out the ram raids along with Tony Smith, 19 from Willingham in Cambridgeshire – both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle at Peterborough Crown Court and were sentenced yesterday.

As part of what police have described an an “audacious crime spree” in March and April this year, they also stole a number of vehicles such as Land Rovers and Audis, which were used to ram into the stores and as getaway cars.

The eight ram raids spanned seven different counties, and there were 24 offences in total.

The first in the series was on March 3 at the Co-op in Church Street, Gamlingay, where a Land Rover was used to ram the store and remove the ATM machine containing a significant amount of money.

They then went to a Lincolnshire Co-op on March 20 and stole thousands from a cash machine in a ram raid using a stolen Daihatsu 4x4.

On April 2, they targeted Biggleswade’s Aldi in Bonds Lane, where a stolen Land Rover and an Audi were used in a bid to steal the ATM, but on this occasion the attempt was unsuccessful.

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The same day, they went to The Guineas Shopping Cente in Newmarket and stole thousands in a ram raid there, on April 4 they used a Land Rover to pull the shutters off a store in Finedon, Northamptonshire, before stealing the ATM containing a substantial amount of cash.

Two days later at the Co-op in Fulbourn, Cambs, a number of offenders wearing balaclavas and boiler suits arrive in a stolen Land Rover and steal a cash machine, and on April 16 they targeted a store in Feltwell in Norfolk and stole thousands in the ram raid there.

Finally, on April 17, at the Co-op in Isleham, Cambs, while in the process of stealing an ATM they were disturbed by police and fled from the scene, but were subsequently arrested.

The raids caused more than £250,000 of damage in total to the businesses. None of the cash has been recovered.

Detective Inspector Trevor Davidson, who led the investigation for the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit 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 in Leicestershire – who cannot be named due to his age – has also pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to burgle charge in relation to the same series of ram raids and will be sentenced later this month.