A gang behind a series of robberies, attacks on cash machines and car thefts in Solihull and Birmingham have been jailed today (13/02).
The gang would tie straps around freestanding cash machines before dragging them out of buildings using vehicles they had stolen.
Thirteen vehicles were stolen during their crime spree, which started in March last year, and were used to carry out the series of robberies.
Banks, supermarkets, convenience stores and a college were targeted by the gang during their three-month rampage.
The gang also carried out violent robberies, including an attack on a security guard where a cash box containing tens of thousands of pounds was stolen.
They were responsible for 14 offences during the three months, predominately targeting ATMs, but also stole around £40,000 worth of cigarettes.
Targets of the gang’s spree included:
- Monday 18 March – The gang ram through glass windows at Solihull College and drag a cash machine containing £2,000 causing over £20,000 worth of damage
- Tuesday 19 March – They reverse a stolen van near the entrance to a Co-op in Acocks Green and make several attempts to steal a cash machine
- Thursday 25 April – Using a stolen skip lorry, the gang attempt to ram a Tesco Express in Balsall Common. They are unsuccessful and abandon the skip which had blocked access to the shop
- Tuesday 30 April – Using sledgehammers and an angle grinder, the gang spend over 10 minutes trying to remove a cash machine from the wall at a Morrisons in Rednall
- Friday 3 May – They attack a security guard with hammers and a crowbar and steal a cash box containing £20,000. They then attempted to launder the money through bookmakers in Shard End and Coventry. The money was dyed with Smartwater which assisted us in identifying where it came from.
- Tuesday 21 May – They target a Nationwide bank in Shirley, they are seen by police shortly after and ram a police car head-on causing minor injuries to two officers
- Wednesday 12 June/Thursday 13 June – Two supermarkets have substantial amounts of cigarettes stolen.
West Midlands Police detectives got their first lead after strapping used by the thieves was recovered, the strapping was then traced to a local supplier. Similar strapping was sold only two days before the robbery and a trawl of CCTV footage lead detectives to one of the main gang members Larry Barnett.
After an in-depth investigation including months of surveillance work, CCTV, forensics and phone analysis, officers were able to bring the gang to justice.
On Tuesday, (11/02), 11 men were found guilty of a range of offences following an 11 week trial at Birmingham Crown Court.
Today, (13/02) the following were sentenced to:
- Larry Barnett, aged 33 from Stechford was given 21 years.
- Jamie Lambie, aged 43 from Smith’s Wood was given 19 years.
- Lee Barnett, aged 32 from Shard End was given 12 years.
- Michael Dunleavy, aged 37 from Balsall Common was given 9 years.
Seven other men will be sentenced for their involvement next month, they are:
- Shaun Bates, aged 26, from Shirley
- Michael Bowen, aged 31, of no fixed address
- Steven Ives, aged 40, from Kingstanding
- Karl Hastings, aged 46, from Kingstanding
- Carl Heard, aged 38, from Sheldon
- Shawn Bancroft, aged 27, from Castle Bromwich
- Oliver Higgins, aged 33, from Hollywood
Detective Sergeant Martin Kelly, who oversaw the operation, said: “The actions of this gang were shocking. Their behaviour was blatant, often spending long periods of time trying to steal cash machines with no care for the people around them. They had no regard for the law and were determined to do what they wanted with no thought about the consequences.
“They also used unnecessary levels of violence towards various security guards and staff members and also rammed a police car head on in an effort to evade us.
“Their crime spree also left a trail of destruction, with damage thought to be in the region of £200,000.
“Thanks to great police work, we were able to build up a detailed picture of the gang, their vehicles and movements. We even seized CCTV from Larry Barnett’s own house showing him and others trying to work out how to use a power tool that we know was used in one of their crimes.
“We continue to work with the cash machine industry to help increase security awareness to reduce the risk of them being targeting by criminals in this way in the future.
“I hope their lengthy prison time will be of some comfort to those people affected by their wild three-month crime spree. These dangerous offenders are now off the streets and being punished for their actions.”