Leicestershire: Gang members jailed over multiple ATM thefts

A gang has been jailed for a series of cash machine thefts across the UK, causing more than £1m in building damage in the process.

They took more than £600,000 in cash and stolen vehicles in 17 attacks, which began in March 2021, Leicestershire Police said.

This involved using stolen vehicles to rip outdoor cash machines from the ground, the force added.

The gang also used power tools or vehicles to access indoor machines.

Six men received prison sentences at Leicester Crown Court on Friday.

The investigation - led by East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU), in collaboration with Police Scotland - found most of those responsible were based in Leicestershire, with a key contact in Scotland to enable a number of attacks across the border.

The gang attacked locations in Loughborough, Attenborough in Nottinghamshire, Peterborough, Wolverhampton, Luton, Worcester, Dorchester, Southampton, and East Midlands Parkway.

Across the border in Scotland, cash machines in Ayr, Motherwell, Livingston, Carronshore, Bo'ness, Milngavie, Wester Dechmont were targeted.

Patrick Gilheaney, John Smith and Tali Smith, described by police as the "core group" who coordinated the attacks, were all jailed for conspiracy to commit a non-dwelling burglary with intent to steal and conspiracy to steal from another.

Gilheaney, 34, and formerly of Griggs Road in Loughborough, Leicestershire, and John Smith, 32, formerly of Spalding, Lincolnshire, were both imprisoned for seven years and six months, while Tali Smith, 34, formerly of Barlestone Road in Bagworth, Leicestershire, was jailed for six years and eight months.

Police said the three men used partners, relatives and others in an "on-call capacity" to support their criminal operation.

Alfie Boswell, 32, formerly of Barlestone Road in Bagworth, Leicestershire, was sentenced to seven years in prison for conspiracy to steal and encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence.

William Boswell, 24, of the same address, received three years in prison for conspiracy to steal.

In November 2022, hundreds of officers and staff executed a number of warrants, which led to significant arrests, the seizure of stolen high-powered vehicles and car parts, as well as two imitation firearms.

The force said Gilheaney's DNA was found on a crowbar left in a vehicle used in an attack in Loughborough on 15 March 2021 and Tali Smith's DNA was found on the key to a stolen transit van, used in an attack in Attenborough, Nottinghamshire, in September 2021.

Gordon McPhee, 37 and formerly of Peters Lane in Pumpherston, Edinburgh, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit a non-dwelling burglary with intent to steal and conspiracy to steal from another after a trial in February. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

Sarah Haynes, Victoria Smith, Rosie McAllister and Francis Gilheaney all received 12-month sentences, suspended for two years, for assisting an offender.

EMSOU Det Ch Insp Darren Brown said: "This was a brash but technically skilled organised group, which found strength as a close-knit, omni-competent criminal community, operating under a clear leadership."

Follow BBC Leicester on Facebook, on X, or on Instagram. Send your story ideas to eastmidsnews@bbc.co.uk or via WhatsApp on 0808 100 2210.