FIVE men who stole cash machines in attacks around the West Midlands have been jailed.
The gang raided cash machines at hospitals, railway stations and cafes, taking £250,000 by ripping out machines tying a loading strap to a truck.
Shane Stajsavlijevic, 36, of Hermes Crescent, Henley Green, Coventry, was jailed for seven years and two months; 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 and Charlie Ward, 27, of Pepys Corner, Tile Hill, Coventry, was handed five years by the judge at Birmingham Crown Court.
The gang’s first attack used cutting equipment to break into a Spar store in Tamworth to rip out the cash machine, on March 15 last year. In September 2018 they broke through bollards to get into Birmingham’s Cannon Hill Park, where they dragged a cash machine from the Midlands Arts Centre.
Days later, on September 29, the group destroyed the inside of a Post Office in Lichfield by dragging out a cash machine, after attempting to block security cameras with tape.
In a terrifying raid on October 17 last year, the gang donned balaclavas before they walked into Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth hospital, loaded a cash machine onto a trolley and walked out, passing staff and patients.
They tried to strike again at a cash and carry in Birmingham, on January 27, but were disturbed by security guards who narrowly missed being hit by the gang’s van.
A Spar convenience store was also hit in Chelmsley Wood on January 30 this year.
Police analysis of security footage, forensics and phones netted the group. Detectives from West Midlands police said their downfall started when the men were forced to abandon a Transit van they were using as a getaway vehicle, following a pursuit.
Forensic tests on that, and 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 linked to a registration plate on one of the vans.
Police uncovered CCTV of him examining a cash machine while unsuspecting passengers went about their business 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.”
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.”