A Merseyside gang who trawled the country stealing ATMs and the cash inside them have today (Monday 20 February ) been jailed for 20 years.
They committed a string of offences including the theft of a large sum of money from Flamingo Land in Malton.
David Owens, aged 35, Shaun Ennis, aged 41, Kevin Caveney, aged 26, disabled the alarm systems at colleges, service stations, amusement parks and caravan sites before attacking the ATMs with heavy duty equipment.
Owens was jailed for seven years, Ennis received six-and-a-half years and Caveney was handed five years nine months, In addition Robin Vaughan, aged 39, was sentenced to 18 months for assisting offenders after pleading guilty to the offence.
Owens, Ennis and Caveney scoured the motorway network looking for targets across the whole of England between January and July of last year.
They were caught following an extensive investigation by the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (Titan), a conglomeration of officers and staff from the six North-West police forces that tackles serious organised crime across county borders.
Officers launched a surveillance operation following five burglaries in West Mercia, Derbyshire, Cleveland, North Yorkshire and Cornwall in early 2011.
There are also a string of offences committed before the Titan investigation began in June 2011 which have since been proved against the defendants:
January 9: offenders burgle Pershore College in West Mercia. The offenders remove the entire ATM and steal cash before fleeing in a Ford Transit van which had earlier been seen in convoy with a Ford Focus registered to David Owens.
March 30: burglars break in to Topspot service station in Marske, near Redcar in Cleveland and force open an ATM to steal a quantity of cash .
April 13: in the early hours, the restaurant at Flamingo Land in Malton, North Yorkshire was burgled and a large quantity of cash stolen from an ATM that had been forced open with a crowbar. The previous afternoon, Owens was caught on CCTV with Caveney in the restaurant playing pool.
May 21: St Minver Holiday Park in Wadebridge, Cornwall burgled by offenders who use hand tools to remove the entire ATM from floor brackets and leave in a Vauxhall Insignia. A police patrol pursued the Insignia and found it abandoned with the ATM and cash still inside the car. Enquiries revealed the car had been hired from a rental company in Bootle, Merseyside the day before by Shaun Ennis.
CCTV from an ASDA store in nearby Penryn showed Ennis buying a spanner set late on the night of May 20. In the Insignia was an ASDA till receipt showing a spanner set had been bought as well as a meal receipt for a McDonalds restaurant where Ennis and Owens had been caught on CCTV after their visit to ASDA.
On June 16, Owens and Caveney drove south down the M6 in a black Audi A3 stopping at various service stations without filling up or buying anything other than a hot drink. The pair drove into Somerset, then Devon and Cornwall, again visiting motorway services, and occasionally village shops.
All the locations they stopped at had free-standing ATMs, yet neither individual ever used one.
Four days later on June 20, Owens and Caveney, this time with Ennis, were spotted in Hampshire, again in a black Audi A3. At around 6pm, the car stopped outside Brockenhurst College in Lyndhurst Road and Owens and Caveney got out to go into the college bar – the ‘Hard Brock Cafe’. Inside they were seen rocking a free-standing ATM back and forth before leaving the cafe and re-joining Ennis in the car and heading back north.
On June 27, police attended a burglary at the Hard Brock Cafe in which an ATM had been tipped on its side. A crowbar bought at a B&Q in Southampton by Owens and Caveney was found at the scene. Officers chased two men seen running across the college grounds and, in the car park of the nearby Rose & Crown pub, found a black Audi A3 with Ennis hiding on the back seat sweating and out of breath. Inside the car officers found clothing and headwear identical to that worn by Caveney and Owens when they visited various B&Qs and Tesco supermarkets to buy cutting equipment, latex gloves, extension cable and duct tape.
Ennis was arrested but refused to co-operate and the investigation continued.
On July 4, Owens and Caveney drove to Blackpool to buy a yellow-handled crowbar and a hand saw from a B&Q store. Two days later a burglary took place at Preston College in Fulwood.
At around 2am an alarm at the college went off and on arrival police officers found that a hole had been sawn in the fire door leading to the college bar had been sawn. Inside the bar the free-standing cash machine had been damaged but the offenders had failed to get access to the cash. A search of the college grounds revealed a handsaw and a yellow-handled crowbar hidden in bushes. Both tools were identical to the type bought by Owens and Caveney two days before.
Two weeks later, a caravan park in Helston in Cornwall had its bar area burgled and the free-standing ATM forced open with a crowbar and a large quantity of cash stolen.
Detectives scoured CCTV cameras stationed on the M5 going in and out of Cornwall and saw that a Renault Megane hired by Caveney had visited Cornwall on the evening of July 19 before being driven back past the camera along the M5 northbound.
On July 20, 2011, police officers from Titan and Merseyside Police executed search warrants at the homes of Owens, Caveney and Ennis and all three were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit burglary and taken to Preston police station for interview. Robin Vaughan was subsequently arrested on November 5, 2011 in West Yorkshire.
A search of Owen’s home revealed £3,500 in cash, a heavy-duty angle grinder, a five-tonne jack, a large number of cash bags, dust masks and a 2011 British Road Atlas.
From Caveney’s home officers recovered car hire documents for the Renault Megane used in the Preston College burglary.
And at Ennis’s home clothing matching that seen being worn by all three suspects during the operation were found.
In total, detectives believe the four stole a substantial amount of cash from ATMs during eight burglaries between January and the date they were arrested the gang are also suspected to have planned considerably more.
Detective Inspector Michael Fraser from the North-West Regional Crime Unit, said the investigation and prosecution of the four showed how successfully the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (Titan) was tackling cross-border crime.
Today’s convictions reflect the persistence of our officers to see that justice is served on offenders who travel the country carrying out crimes.
The North West Regional Organised Crime Unit works hard with our partners and other forces to detect, prevent and bring offenders prepared to cross borders to commit crimes to justice.