Five members of a gang who stole 17 ATMs across the South East have been jailed for total of more than 30 years.

The group carried out a total of 52 offences spanning London, Hertfordshire, Cambridge, Essex, Kent, the Thames Valley area, Suffolk, and Surrey.

In addition to the 17 ATM thefts, they carried out 23 burglaries and stole 12 motor vehicles. They caused more than £1m worth of damage to properties and stole money and vehicles worth more than £500,000.

Before each ATM theft the gang stole a vehicle from a residential address, often using it to attempt to rip out the machine from within a venue, and then abandoned the vehicle at the scene or nearby.

During a burglary on 27 June 2018, at a supermarket on Thaxted Road in Saffron Walden, the group used a large excavator from a building site to smash through the front entrance.

On several occasions, the group used sledgehammers to smash windows and angle grinders to cut through doors. They tried to attach heavy duty straps to several cash machines and pull them from the venue using a vehicle.

During an offence in Long Melford, Suffolk, on 14 October 2018, the group used a digger to smash through the front of a building, narrowly missing a resident sleeping in the apartment above.

The defendants were sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday, 23 August.

Alfie Smith, Alfie Stanley and Levi Smith pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit residential burglary, conspiracy to commit non-residential burglary and conspiracy to steal motor vehicles in relation to 52 offences, which occurred between March and November 2018, at an earlier hearing and were jailed for 14 years and eight months, seven years and eight months, and six years respectively.

Roberts denied the offences and was due to stand trial in August but pleaded guilty to one count of residential burglary shortly before. He was jailed for 15 months.

Alfie Smith and Stanley were also charged with aggravated criminal damage. They both denied the offence but pleaded guilty shortly before trial. They were jailed for a further two years and eight months each, to run consecutively to their original sentences.

A fifth defendant, Jimmy Broomfield, of Yeldham Road, Halstead was charged with conspiracy to commit a residential burglary, conspiracy to commit a non-residential burglary and conspiracy to steal a motor vehicle in relation to offences between 27 June and 7 August 2018 only.

He denied the offences but was convicted on Tuesday, 20 August following a week-long trial.

He was sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on Thursday, 26 September to five years’ imprisonment.

Detective constable John Richards, from the Met’s Flying Squad, said: “Today’s result marks a successful conclusion to what has been a lengthy, cross-border investigation. This group of individuals showed a complete disregard for the owners and occupiers of the houses they stole from. Moreover, the danger they put the public and themselves in whilst committing these ram raids was mindless. It is only through sheer luck that nobody was injured.

“They were responsible for causing large amounts of damage to local businesses resulting in large financial losses, and on many occasions the damage to property has been such that the business had to close down, causing a loss of jobs.

“It is imperative that we continue to show organised criminal groups that this type of offending will not go unnoticed and will be dealt with robustly.”

"I would like to thank colleagues from Essex and Kent Police for their assistance throughout this investigation.”

HH Judge Paneth remarked that the case involved “extraordinary police work” and commended DC Richards.