An organised crime gang who targeted ATM machines in the Midlands have been jailed just days after another gang operating the South East were imprisoned for a total of 55 years.

The gang would tie straps around freestanding ATMs before ripping them out using vehicles on cloned plates in 11 burglaries and attempted burglaries.

A major West Midlands Police operation is being credited with bringing the gang down thanks to a combination of CCTV, forensics and phone analysis.

The gang’s downfall began when they were forced to abandon a Transit van they were using as a getaway vehicle, following a pursuit.

Forensic tests on that, and a fingerprints left on a trolley they’d dumped at one crime scene, helped police identify suspects. Ringleader Craig Matthews, who has 19 previous convictions spanning 49 offences, left his DNA on a piece of tape used to cover cameras in Lichfield.

He was also forensically linked to a registration plate on one of the vans.

Police uncovered CCTV of him examining a cash machine at Rugby train station.

The gang was arrested at the beginning of this year and went on to admit conspiracy to commit commercial burglary.

DCI Annie Miller, who oversaw the operation, said: “This was sophisticated organised crime which showed a huge amount of planning.

“While no one was hurt during the spree, the gang left a trail of destruction which left victims facing huge bills.

“Thanks to great police work, we were able to build up a detailed picture of the gang, their vehicles, reconnaissance and movements.

“We’re continuing to work with the cash machine industry to help increase security to reduce the risk of them being targeted by criminals in this way in the future."

The industry has launched a drive called Secure ATM, including sprays that identify thieves for up to five years after an attack, dyes that are sprayed on cash during an attack and kits which can neutralise gas which can be used to blow up machines.

Marc Terry, international managing director for Cardtronics, which owned some of the cash machines targeted, said: “Let these sentences be a warning for anyone out there contemplating an attack on our Secure ATMs.

“These results show that our Secure ATM initiative is exceptionally effective in helping the police track down, catch and send to jail those who attempt to attack Cardtronics machines.

“Congratulations and our thanks go to West Midlands Police for their excellent work in helping us to protect access to cash for local and rural communities, who rely on ATMs for basic banking services.

"Our work does not stop here − we are fighting to protect access to cash across the whole of the UK and will not rest until ATM crime is eradicated and ceases to be a threat to communities and their residents. Those considering an attack should think again, as they will be caught and sent to jail for a very long time."

The men were sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court.

• Craig Matthews, 42, of Benmore Avenue, Edgbaston, Birmingham was jailed for eight years and seven months.

• David Bradley, 28, of Wappenbury Road, Wood End, Coventry, was given five years.

• Kenneth Bourne, 38, of Nuneaton Road, Fillongley, was jailed for six years.

• Shane Stajsavljevic, 36, of Hermes Crescent, Henley Green, Coventry, was jailed for seven years and two months.

• Charlie Ward, 27, of Pepys Corner, Tile Hill, Coventry, was handed five years.