Gang of cash point ram raiders jailed over year-long £1million crime spree
PUBLISHED: 07:44 21 October 2019 | UPDATED: 07:44 21 October 2019
A gang of prolific burglars who stole more than £1million during a year-long crime spree targeting cash machines - including one in Gravesend - has been jailed for a total of 55 years.
Walter Mitchell Junior, Shane Stanley, Walter Mitchell Senior, Levi Mitchell, William Mitchell, Sid Clark, Jack Mitchell and Ross Whitford were sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday, October 18.
All of them are from Harlow.
Essex Police began investigating a gang of smash and grab thieves in April 2018 after a series of cross border commercial and dwelling burglaries, car thefts and cash point thefts.
Each of the offences was carried out with ruthless efficiency and determination.
High powered electric tools and vehicles were used to break in to premises stealing thousands of pounds of cigarettes or to smash and grab ATMs.
The ram raids in particular caused substantial damage to the properties in which the cash points were housed.
The gang's crimes spanned across Essex, Hertfordshire, Surrey, Cambridgeshire, Thames Valley and the Greater London area between March 24 2018 and March 5 this year.
Investigating detectives linked the men to crimes in Broxbourne, Corringham, West Kingsdown, South Ockendon, Rainham, Gravesend, Epsom, Hutton, Loughton, Pilgrims Hatch and Redbourn.
Specialist officers soon honed in on the activities of a family living at Fern Hill caravan site in Harlow and their associates.
On March 5, investigators were granted permission to search properties in Brentwood, Harlow and Stansted Abbots and eight arrests were made during those raids.
Walter Mitchell Junior, 22, of Fern Hill Lane, Harlow, received eight years custodial for conspiracy to commit commercial burglaries, conspiracy to commit dwelling burglaries, conspiracy to handle stolen goods and conspiracy to commit theft of motor vehicles;
Shane Stanley, 37, of Fern Hill Lane, Harlow, received a nine year custodial sentence for conspiracy to commit commercial burglaries and conspiracy to handle stolen goods;
Walter Mitchell Senior, 42, of Fern Hill Lane, Harlow, received a nine year custodial sentence for conspiracy to commit commercial burglaries and conspiracy to handle stolen goods;
Levi Mitchell, 35, of Fern Hill Lane, Harlow, received a seven year custodial sentence for conspiracy to commit commercial burglaries;
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William Mitchell, 30, of Fern Hill Lane, Harlow, received a seven year custodial sentence for conspiracy to commit commercial burglaries;
Sid Clark, 32, of Broadfield Harlow, received a four year custodial sentence for conspiracy to commit commercial burglaries;
Ross Whitford, 24, of Rock Lane, Hastings, received a four year custodial sentence for conspiracy to commit commercial burglaries;
Jack Mitchell, 20, of Kingsmoor Road, Harlow, received a seven year custodial sentence for conspiracy to commit commercial burglaries.
Speaking after the sentencing, Supt Andy Waldie, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "These men were highly organised and dangerous, we believed they would put our officers and members of the public at risk of harm and violence in their attempts to escape.
"They were able to get away from scenes quickly, leaving very little forensic opportunities before destroying the stolen vehicles they used.
"Even when the whole ATMs were stolen, sometimes they were able to get away from scenes in under a minute.
"We estimate that theft and damage costing more than a £1million was caused by this group of men over a period of a year.
"The case file involved over 100 investigations including 35 commercial burglaries and burglaries across 14 towns and villages in the eastern region.
"A 500-page timeline and presentation was compiled and presented to the Crown Prosecution Service as evidence.
"The case was investigated by the Serious Crime Directorate, which used a variety of policing tactics including support from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit.
"Despite the challenges posed by this organised crime group across the region, we worked around the clock to collate an overwhelming amount of evidence against the Mitchells, Clark, Stanley and Whitford, who have since been jailed for a total of 55 years."
Joseph Stickings of the Crown Prosecution Service added: "Conspiring together to form a strategic and relentless approach to committing crime, this group of men carried out a series of offences across a prolonged period in Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and the Greater London area.
"They deployed a number of measures to evade capture and detection including stealing expensive and powerful vehicles and fitting them with cloned, false or stolen number plates.
"They wore balaclavas or other face coverings and routinely burnt out the cars and ATMs once they were finished with them.
"This group stole over £1million pounds of goods and cash during the crime spree until a targeted operation by Essex Police ended their conspiracy."