Three men have been sentenced to more than 30 years in prison for their part in a string of attacks on ATMs across Leicestershire and neighbouring counties in October and November last year.
They used gas canisters to blow open the ATMs, before using power tools to gain access to the stores to get to the cash – often making off with thousands of pounds.
All three previously 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.
The charges included burglary of the Shell petrol station at Brook Street, Tring in Hertfordshire, while offences at the Shell garage, at Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire, and the Texaco garage, at Huntley, Gloucestershire, were taken into consideration.
At Leicester Crown Court Charlie Smith, 31, of Mere Lane in Bitteswell, Lutterworth, was sentenced to 10 years and seven months, Alfie Adams, 36, of Bickershaw Lane in Wigan, sentenced to 12 years, and John Doran, 20, of Gelderd Road in Gildersome, Leeds was sentenced to eight years and seven months and he was given an additional five-month sentence for breaching a suspended sentence.
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.
“The volatile gas mixtures they used to cause the explosions could have had devastating consequences.
“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.”