Long Bennington ram raiders jailed
Two men who stole hundreds of thousands of pounds in a series of ramraids committed across six counties - including the Co-op in Long Bennington - have been jailed.
Cash machines containing nearly £300,000 were stolen during the crimewave in March and April. None of the money has been recovered.
The Co-op in Long Bennington was targeted in March.
Charlie Oakley, 26, of Shefford, Bedfordshire, has begun a six year prison term for his part in the raids.
Tony Smith, 19, of Willingham, Cambridgeshire, was also sentenced to five years in a young offenders' institution during a hearing before Peterborough Crown Court on Wednesday.
A 17-year-old youth from Market Harborough, who cannot be named for legal reasons, will be sentenced later. All three pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to burgle at an earlier hearing.
The wave of offending, which began in Gamlingay, near Sandy, in early March, lasted several weeks before the gang was finally arrested following a further incident in Cambridgeshire in mid-April.
Detectives say 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. A total of 24 separate offences were committed and around £250,000 of damage caused.
Detective Inspector Trevor Davidson, who led the investigation for the Eastern Region Special Operators Unit (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.”