The gang who ram-raided Cambs shops using a digger in £1.5 million crime spree

Five members of an organised criminal network have been jailed after they ram raided a series of shops across Cambridgeshire and its surrounding counties. The group carried out a total of 52 offences spanning Cambrdgeshire, London, Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent, the Thames Valley area, Suffolk and Surrey. There were a total of 17 ATM thefts, 23 burglaries, and 12 instances of taking a motor vehicle.

In total the group caused more than GBP1 million worth of damage to properties and stole money and vehicles worth more than GBP500,000. One of the targets was an Aldi in Saffron Walden. The group targeted the supermarket in Thaxted Road in the early hours of the morning on June 27 2018.

They used an excavator stolen from a building site to reverse into the store, however they were disturbed and fled empty-handed in a truck. At the time, a spokesperson for Essex Police said: “Suspects in two vehicles used an excavator to reverse into the store before attempting to take a cash machine from the building. “We believe they were disturbed and then fled the scene in a white flatbed truck, which was abandoned.

We believe they then got into a white hatchback car that was following behind. “Extensive damage has been caused by the excavator, which was left at the scene and was stolen.”

Investigation launched thanks to forensic evidence

Aldi ram raid

An investigation was launched by the Met Police’s Flying Squad after one of the group, Alfie Smith was forensically linked to the incident in Saffron Walden. From there, detectives identified additional offences which were potentially linked and expanded their inquiries into the wider organised criminal network.

Officers carried out a significant amount of analysis of mobile phones, trawled hours of CCTV footage and mapped the movement of the group through automatic number place recognition. This then led them to identify the additional members of the network and enabled them to start mapping the timeline of offences. Working with neighbouring forces, detectives identified a total of 52 offences linked to the group.

Before each ATM theft the gang stole a vehicle from a residential address, often using it to attempt to rip out the machine from within a venue, and then abandoned the vehicle at the scene or in a nearby location. On several occasions the group used sledgehammers to smash windows, and angle grinders to cut through doors. They tried to attach heavy duty straps to several cash machines and pull them from the venue using a vehicle.

During one offence caught on video in Long Melford, Suffolk, on October 14 2018 the group used a digger to smash through the front of a building, narrowly missing a resident sleeping in the apartment above. Levi Smith was arrested in November 2018 after his DNA was linked to an offence at a supermarket on Staines Road West in Sunbury-on-Thames. His DNA was found on straps the group attempted to put around a cash machine inside, as well as on the internal handle of the stolen car.

He was then further arrested in relation to the wider conspiracy. Alfie Stanley was arrested later in November whilst driving a vehicle stolen in one of the offences. Jimmy Broomfield meanwhile was identified by officers through analysis of phone data.

The data showed he was complicit in offences between June 27 and August 7 only.

The ram raids were “mindless”

The gang who ram-raided Cambs shops using a digger in £1.5 million crime spreeFrom left to right: Alfie Smith, Jimmy Broomfield, Levi Smith, Kiah Roberts, and Alfie Stanley

Detective Constable John Richards, from the Met’s Flying Squad, said: “The result marks a successful conclusion to what has been a lengthy, cross-border investigation. “This group of individuals showed a complete disregard for the owners and occupiers of the houses they stole from. Moreover, the danger they put the public and themselves in whilst committing these ram raids was mindless.

“It is only through sheer lucky that nobody was injured. “They were responsible for causing large amounts of damage to local businesses resulting in large financial losses, and on many occasions the damage to property has been such that the business had to close down, causing a loss of jobs. “It is imperative that we can continue to show organised criminal groups that this type of offending will not go unnoticed and will be dealt with robustly.

“I would like to thank colleagues from Essex and Kent police for their assistance throughout this investigation.”

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Four of the men were charged with conspiracy to commit residential burglary, conspiracy to commit non-residential burglary and conspiracy to steal motor vehicles in relation to 52 offences which took place between March and November 2018. Alfie Smith, 41, of Staines Road West, Ashford, Middlesex, Alfie Stanley, 41, of Beech Drive, Cambridgeshire, Levi Smith, 36, of Yeldham Road, Halstead, Essex, and Kiah Roberts, 42, of Glamorgan Road, Ipswich were all sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday, August 23. Alfie Smith, Alfie Stanley and Levi Smith all pleaded guilty to the offences at an earlier hearing and were jailed for 14 years and eight months, seven years and eight months, and six years respectively.

Roberts denied the offences and was due to stand trial in August but pleaded guilty to one count of residential burglary shortly before, he was jailed for 15 months. Alfie Smith and Stanley were also charged with aggravated criminal damage. They both denied the offence but pleaded guilty shortly before trial.

They were jailed for a further two years and eight months each, to run consecutively to their original sentences. A fifth defendant, Jimmy Broomfield, 32, of Yeldham Road, Halstead, was charged with conspiracy to commit a residential burglary, conspiracy to commit a non-residential burglary, conspiracy to steal a motor vehicle in relation to offences between June 27 and August 7 2018 only. He denied the offences but was convicted on Tuesday, August 20 following a week-long trial.

He was sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on Thursday September 26 to five years’ imprisonment.

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