ATM gang pocketed £684,000 on UK spree
17 September 2012
A GANG of circular saw-wielding thieves who attacked supermarket ATMs across the country – bagging almost £700,000 in cash – have been jailed for a total of 24 years after being trapped by undercover West Midlands Police detectives
Noel Reilly, David Holmes, Darren Buckley and Simon Phillips struck at 32 Co-Op stores – from Devon to Kent, Lincoln and the Midlands – over the space of exactly 12 months.
The quartet also carried out numerous burglaries in which high-performance cars were targeted and used to quickly escape the scene of their cash-point raids…often at speeds of up to 150mph.
Detectives from West Midlands Police’s Serious Acquisitive Crime (SAC) team led a nationwide hunt for the men following early-hours break-ins at Co-Op stores in Knowle at 3.15am on June 3 and Quinton just 20 minutes later.
And after extensive covert work, the enquiry team made a key breakthrough when they spotted men acting suspiciously around an Audi RS4 at a Harborne lock-up on the night of September 21.
The vehicle was monitored back to the garage where forensics experts lifted clues from its interior which identified the four men as suspects.
They were arrested during co-ordinated raids at their West Midlands homes on September 28 and bailed pending continued forensics analysis and enquiries.
During that time Walsall men Reilly (33) and 31-year-old Holmes carried out more jobs in Morehampstead, Sherbourne and Bridport.– but were tracked by the enquiry team to a rented cottage in Taunton, Somerset.
And when police stormed the building on November 2 they found the pair with £86,000 in cash – stolen from the Bridport Co-Op burglary earlier that day – plus a lap-top and Audi S4 linked to a Taunton village break-in.
Analysis of the lap-top showed Holmes had used internet search terms like “cutting open ATM machines” and also scoured the websites of ATM manufacturers and car magazines hoping to find addresses where high-performance cars were being sold.
All four men admitted conspiracy to burgle commercial premises and residential homes – and at Birmingham Crown Court today (Sept 17) they were jailed for a total of 24 years and seven months.
West Midlands Police Inspector Warren Hines, whose team took over the enquiry in May last year, said: “These offences were clearly well rehearsed and, in some cases, committed very efficiently in just a matter of minutes.
“They used petrol-powered disc cutters to hack into the cash points; it’s estimated the full toll of their exploits, taking into account the cash and cars stolen plus the damage to ATM machines, approached almost one million pounds.
“The group were being sought by several forces across the UK but West Midlands Police’s specialist SAC team took on the enquiry…we quickly established the likely offenders and through a significant covert operation caught two of the men red handed and secured overwhelming DNA evidence against all four.
“They thought they were untouchable…we proved them wrong.”
The men first struck at a Co-Op in Maidstone, Kent, on November 2 2010 and sent sparks flying as they sliced into its ATM and removed cash trays.
They escaped with £19,250…but would go on to pocket a total of £684,210 during their 33 early morning raids.
All but one of the break-ins were at Co-Op stores – including in Parkhall, Walsall, on September 3 and Northfield on 16 September – with the other being a Total garage in Redditch on 12 May when the same tactics yielded £33,700.
At all four West Midlands stores they fled empty handed after security devices, triggered by the break-in, released smoke into the stores.
Insp Hines, added: “To aid their getaways they stole an enviable array of high-powered cars, including several Audi RS Models, BMW M3 and Astra VXR, and would regularly swap cloned number plates on the vehicles.
“They always carried out recces of their target stores in the days before the burglary; Reilly and Holmes were caught on CCTV at the store entrance before their final job in Co-Op Bridport and can be seen trying to obscure their faces with their hands.
“They narrowly evaded capture speeding away from some of their burglaries but, with the compelling DNA evidence recovered from abandoned vehicles and a dedicated police team on their tail, it was only as matter of time before their luck ran out.”
All four men are subject to ongoing court action under the Proceeds of Crime Act where any assets found to have been obtained through illegal means will be seized.
CCTV footage of the gang in action
Photos: left to right: David Holmes, Darren Buckley, Simon Phillips and Noel Reilly