Detectives have dismantled a gang involved in a plot to target cashpoint machines across Cumbria.
An 18-month investigation by Cumbria Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit has led to eight men from the county being jailed for a total of nearly 40 years.
The gang, snared during Operation Rumble, were handed sentences stretching from seven years to three years at Carlisle Crown Court today.
They were involved in a conspiracy that targeted ATMs, with the plot lasting for about a year – up to September 2018.
Sites at towns and places including Maryport, Whitehaven, Cockermouth, Silloth, Workington and Brampton were all involved.
The men either admitted conspiracy to steal or were found guilty of conspiracy to burgle following a trial.
They were brought back before the city’s crown court today where they faced justice.
Those sentenced – and the sentences they received – were:
- Maurice Smith, 56, of Craika Road, Dearham. He admitted conspiracy to steal and was jailed for four years.
- Scott Walpole, 29, of East Crescent, Aspatria. He admitted conspiracy to steal and was jailed for four years and three months.
- Ashley Macauley, 25, of Aspatria. He admitted conspiracy to steal and was jailed for four years and three months.
- John Thompson, 26, of Harriston, Aspatria. He admitted conspiracy to steal and was jailed for three years and four months.
- Dillon Broderick, 22, of Main Street, Ellenborough, Maryport. He admitted conspiracy to steal and was jailed for three years.
- Zane Tinkler, 27, of Brunswick Square, Penrith. He admitted conspiracy to steal and was jailed for four years and six months.
- Martyn Smith, 37, of Lonsdale Terrace, Dearham. He was found guilty of conspiracy to burgle and was jailed for seven years.
- Steven Smith, 38, of Towncroft, Dearham. He was found guilty of conspiracy to burgle and was jailed for seven years.
The plot led to only one raid in which an ATM was stolen.
But it also involved a number of failed attacks, which left destruction in their wake and caused damage costing thousands of pounds.
The plot also involved sites being subject to suspicious visits, with men spotted looking at the security of buildings.
The investigation made a major break-through when police seized two vehicles in Brampton on April 26 last year.
Inquiries involving forensic evidence, CCTV work and sifting through other clues helped the police unit tackling serious and organised crime successfully bring together the pieces of the investigation.
Detective Chief Inspector Nick Coughlan, speaking afterwards, welcomed the sentences and paid tribute to the skilled and hardworking efforts of all those involved.
He said: “This was a complex and difficult investigation.
“But the hard work and efforts of our officers and staff has led to this group being caught – and members facing significant spells in jail.
“It was only as a result of an in-depth and meticulous inquiry involving many hours of skilled policework by officers that we managed to crack this case, gather the evidence and obtain convictions.
“Officers have searched through hours of CCTV footage in painstaking detail during the investigation.”
DCI Coughlan added: “ATMs are community assets.
“People know where they are and where to go if they need cash for their everyday lives.
“The aftermath of this type of crime is often shocking to see and makes people feel unsafe.
“A conspiracy to target ATMs is a conspiracy against the community,
“The damage and destruction caused by ATM attacks hits businesses and residents.
“Anybody considering such an attack – whether they be in Cumbria or from outside the county – should know we have a strong record of catching and prosecuting people involved in this type of crime.
“Cumbria Constabulary are no soft touch and the county is no easy target – as those now facing up to a stretch behind bars can testify.”
The cashpoint that was stolen was at Aldi, Whitehaven, with the raid happening on October 17 2017.
A vehicle was used to pull the ATM out of the shop wall and more than £66,000 was stolen from the cashpoint.
There was a failed raid at Aldi, Cockermouth, on December 5, 2017. The offenders used a stolen tractor to ram into the wall of the store.
In January 2018, glass was smashed at the foyer of the Co-Op at Maryport. No attack was made on the ATM inside but the smoke detectors within the foyer were tampered with.
There was an attempt made at an ATM at Home Bargains, Whitehaven, on February 27 last year where the offenders used a nearby lamppost to power an angle grinder to cut through the foyer shutters.
There was another failed raid at an ATM at the Spar in Silloth on March 14 2018 where the offenders used a stolen telehandler machine to ram into the wall of the shop.
Then there was an unsuccessful attempt in Ambleside on April 7 last year.
A number of other sites were suspected of being looked at as part of the conspiracy.