A gang whose crimes included towing away a cash machine have been jailed for a collective total of over 16 years.
Jamie Johnson, Robert Flint and Joshua Lloyd were linked to a series of burglaries through forensic examination work, CCTV and phone analysis.
In the first burglary, two stolen BMWs arrived at the Co-Op in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex in the early hours of January 21, 2016.
One reversed into a window to smash it and a tow rope was tied to a stand-alone cash machine inside the shop. The thieves then towed out the cash machine and loaded into car.
The machine was found dumped on a grass bank near the railway line in Benfleet on March 2. The £14,600 inside had been stolen and never recovered.
CCTV showed Flint, Johnson and Lloyd had gone to the shop the day before the burglary in what appeared to be a reconnaissance visit. Johnson and Lloyd then returned an hour and 20 minutes later and Lloyd tampered with the burglar alarm sensor.
Johnson and Flint, both aged 26, were arrested a few days later and questioned, before being released on bail while police continued their enquiries.
Undeterred, they continued their wave of burglaries with a string of copycat attacks.
In the early hours of March 8, the gang were seen in a 4x4 type vehicle arriving at the Co-Op in Wickford, Essex. They used the car to force open the rear doors of the building. Several attempts were made to break into a cash machine using a circular disc cutter, but they left empty-handed.
The following day, a stolen BMW was found in Wickford. The car contained items including a disc cutter, bolt croppers and a glove, all of which were forensically linked to Johnson and Flint.
Then on March 31, shortly before 2.30am, the three men arrived in a Ford Fiesta at William Hill bookmakers in Billericay. Two of them smashed the door and left. The trio then returned at about 3.55am. One went into the shop briefly, but nothing was taken.
Finally, on April 4, at around 12.10am, the gang were seen outside Rightprice convenience store in Southminster. Two of them attempted to break open the door and returned about three hours later, but drove off after the alarm sounded.
The Fiesta was stopped on the southbound A13 about two hours later. It was driven by Johnson, the sole occupant. He was wearing an Adidas jacket matching that worn by one of the men who broke into the Co-Op in Nevendon Road.
Lloyd was arrested later that day at his home in Oak Green, Billericay. In his bedroom were a Nike jacket and a bag matching those worn by one of the men in some the crimes. Forensic examinations also linked him to the tampering of the alarm sensor at the first Co-Op burglary.
All three were charged in January this year with conspiracy to burgle, seven counts of burglary and one count of attempted burglary. They stood trial at Basildon Crown Court on October 16.
Flint, of Corringham, and Johnson, of Basildon, pleaded guilty to the Co-Op burglaries in Stanford-le-Hope and Wickford as well as the attack on William Hill in Billericay.
Lloyd, 22, pleaded guilty to burglary at the Co-Op in Stanford-le-Hope as well as a branch of Rightprice in Southminster.
At sentencing today (Friday 2017) Flint was given a total of 5 years 8 months for burglary and six months for disqualified driving, to run concurrently, in relation to a separate incident. He was also disqualified from driving for 34 months, which will start upon his release.
Johnson was given a total of 5 years and 8 months for burglary and two months for common assault, to run concurrently, in relation to a separate incident, while Lloyd was sentenced to a total of 4 years 5 months for burglary and attempted burglary.
Four further offences are to remain on file.
Detective chief inspector Josie Hayes, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said after today’s hearing: “Flint, Johnson and Lloyd declined to answer questions during police interview and denied any involvement in these crimes.
“But ultimately the evidence against them was overwhelming and caught them out.”