An organised crime gang (OCG) who blew up ATMs and ram-raided premises across the Thames Valley region have been jailed for a total of 74 years.
The men were all part of an OCG codenamed Solar, and the offences took place in three specific phases between June 2019 and June 2020.
The first series related to multiple attacks on ATMs where some members of the OCG targeted commercial premises, using gas attacks and explosions to steal cash from the machines, and causing massive damage.
Subsequently, the OCG found their gas attack tactic was not working so they changed their method to ram-raids and drag-out attacks, again causing significant damage to commercial premises.
The group also stole a number of vehicles to facilitate their crimes.
Finally, the group moved to rural crime, targeting the theft of high-value agricultural vehicles and plant.
Committing multiple offences around the Thames Valley and neighbour force areas, their biggest heist involved stealing nearly £400,000 worth of tractors from a location in Cassington in one night.
In addition to these offences was a burglary at the National Horse Racing Museum at Newmarket Racecourse where the group stole high-value trophies, some of which were of historical significance.
These have never been recovered.
Jimmy Sheen, aged 37, of Warren Crescent, Oxford, who was the leader of the gang, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to cause an explosion, conspiracy to commit burglary, burglary, theft, attempted theft, using criminal property and conspiracy to steal. He was sentenced to a total of 17 years and four months’ imprisonment.
David Riley, aged 26, of Linkfield Lane, Redhill, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to cause an explosion, conspiracy to commit burglary, burglary, theft and handling stolen goods. He was jailed for 17 years and three months.
Frenny Green, aged 33, of HMP Bullingdon, was sent to prison for ten years and six months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to cause an explosion.
Shane Harris, aged 32, of Hughes Close, Charlbury, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary, and was sentenced to three years and four months’ imprisonment.
Jimmy Loveridge, aged 30, formerly of Chertsey Road, Chobham, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary, burglary, attempted theft, using criminal property and conspiracy to steal.
He was jailed for 14 years and three months.
Paul Smith, aged 30, of Hearmon Close, Yateley, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and was found guilty by unanimous jury verdict of conspiracy to commit burglary, attempted theft and using criminal property following a trial at Oxford Crown Court, which concluded on 25 March this year.
Smith was subsequently sentenced to a total of 11 years and four months’ imprisonment.
On their way to one of their planned offences on 10 June 2020, some of the group were involved in a serious road traffic collision, which resulted in the death of Rocky Broadway.
Loveridge was subsequently jailed for ten years for causing the death of Mr Broadway by dangerous driving.
A number of search warrants were executed as a part of the collision investigation, allowing officers to recover significant evidential material and phones relating to the OCG’s activities.
Following a lengthy investigation, all six men were arrested and charged with multiple offences in April 2021.
Two of the men were located and arrested, while Loveridge and Smith were already in prison following the fatal collision.
Sheen had previously been recalled to prison, while Green was on remand for a separate and unrelated incident.
Following the arrests, the series of ATM thefts ceased immediately.
Senior investigating officer detective chief inspector Aidan Donohoe said: “Jimmy Sheen and this OCG caused great pain to local communities with their outrageous, dangerous and audacious offending.
“This was an OCG that wreaked havoc across both the Thames Valley and surrounding forces. Our investigation and these subsequent convictions mean this OCG has been completely dismantled.
“Removing these individuals from the community has unquestionably prevented further serious offences and there have been almost no further ATM attacks in the Thames Valley.
Marc Terry, international managing director for Cardtronics, commented: “This is an excellent result. We would like to congratulate Thames Valley Police for their hard work and diligence in bringing these dangerous criminals to justice.
“Attacks on ATMs deprive local communities and vulnerable groups of access to cash, damaging the local economy and causing huge damage to local businesses and infrastructure.
“We are committed to continued collaboration with police forces across the country to put an end to this type of crime.”
As a further development, £18,500 in cash was seized from the Manor Park site, near Kidlington, when search warrants were executed, while working jointly with the Economic Crime Unit (ECU).
The team also recovered £19,500 in cash and approximately £88,000 in other assets, such as high value jewellery and watches, from Sheen’s home address.
The ECU is leading a separate prosecution for Proceeds of Crime Act offences.