August 22 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Three men who were part of an organised crime group which carried out a spate of burglaries at business premises across East Anglia, including a ram raid at Glemsford Post Office, have been given jail sentences totalling more than 14 years.
During a period of five months the gang targeted vulnerable small businesses in rural locations and stole cash and cigarettes and caused damage running into thousands of pounds, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
On November 3 last year a stolen 4x4 vehicle was reversed at speed into the front of the Broadway Stores and Post Office at Glemsford causing £15,000 damage, said Peter Gair, prosecuting.
Straps which had been stolen from a crane company near Ipswich were looped over a free-standing ATM (Automated Teller Machine) and attached to a vehicle which attempted to pull it out of the damaged building. However nothing was stolen as the machine was empty, said Mr Gair.
Other burglaries were committed at the Mace Store and Post Office in Peasenhall; the Barn Brasserie at Great Tey, near Colchester; an industrial unit in the Teybrook Centre, Great Tey; and Sam’s Local Shopper and Post Office at Pulham Market.
Before the court were Alan Loveridge, 47, of Moorsfield, Great Cornard; Steven Allum, 27, of Henry Street, Debenham; and Michael Smith, 29, of Mill Lane, Ellingham, who all admitted conspiracy to burgle between June 22 and November 8 last year.
Jailing Loveridge for five years, Allum for four years and Smith for five years and six months, Recorder Gerard Pounder said small businesses which couldn’t afford the same degree of security as larger stores had been targeted during the spate of raids.
The court heard the three defendants accepted they were part of an organised crime group and had performed specific roles in the conspiracy.
Mr Gair said the Mace Store and post office in Peasenhall was forcibly entered through a front door at 4.15am on June 23 last year.
During the raid a till containing £200 and cigarettes worth £300 were stolen and one of the intruders was seen carrying an axe.
A car which had been stolen a few hours earlier from Needham Market was used as a getaway vehicle and that was recovered a few days later bearing stolen number plates.
In addition to the ram raid at Glemsford on November 3 two more burglaries were committed at the Barn Brasserie and an industrial unit at Great Tey, near Colchester, later the same day.
During the raid at the industrial unit a local farmer had his car rammed and burglars carrying a hammer and a crowbar had got out of their vehicle and approached him in a bid to scare him off.
The burglary at Pulham Market took place on November 7 and cash, stamps and cigarettes worth £4,500 were stolen while damage valued at £7,000 was caused to the premises.
Jonathan Rosen for Loveridge, who was involved in the Pulham Market burglary, said his client had been addicted to heroin but had now kicked the habit.
Christopher Paxton for Allum said his client had not been present at any of the raids but had been involved in obtaining stolen number plates for a vehicle used in one of the burglaries.
Roger Thomson for Smith said his client had been involved in the Glemsford ram raid and the theft of straps that were used to pull out the ATM.