Vehicles believed to have been bought with the proceeds from a string of raids on cashpoints were seized by police from addresses around Wisbech today (Wednesday, May 13).
Around 140 officers from Cambridgeshire and Norfolk police forces with officers from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) and the National Crime Agency carried out warrants at addresses in Wisbech and Upwell.
They seized an Audi A5 S-line TDI Cabriolet, a Swift Corniche caravan, a Nissan Navara, numerous smaller quad bikes, plant machinery and a tank of diesel from addresses in Wisbech, Upwell, and Potton in Bedfordshire.
The officers also discovered cannabis factories at the Potton and Upwell addresses with a combined potential street value of between £18,000 and £54,000.
The addresses are linked to Joseph Upton, John Smith and Albert Smith who were part of a gang who were recently jailed for a total of 22 years for their involvement in a series of ATM ram raids across the region in 2012.
The gang carried out smash and grab raids at 12 banks and businesses and six burglaries during a nine-month crime spree. They used JCB vehicles to smash into businesses before ripping out cash machines, used cutting equipment to help themselves to more cash and escaped in vehicles they had plundered in burglaries across the Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Lincolnshire.
In total, they got away with £301,560 from cash machines and stole cars and jewellery worth more than £100,000. They also caused damage totalling £250,000.
The assets will now be held as part of the ongoing confiscation investigation into the defendants so that the court can decide what assets the defendants acquired through their criminality and will now have to give up.
Det Chief Insp Chris Balmer from ERSOU said: “The ram raids not only cost the banks a huge amount of money, but also impacted on rural communities who lost their access to cash machines not to mention those who had their cars and machinery stolen by the gang in order to carry out the crimes.
“Today’s operation is about securing assets owned by some of the offenders who carried out the raids. The message should be clear that crime does not pay and we will continue to pursue criminals after they have been convicted at court in order to strip them of any assets they may have gained through their criminality.”
Upton, 43, of Murrow Lane, Parsons Drove; John Smith, 39, of Small Lode, in Upwell,; Albert Smith, 38, of Common Road, in Potton; Alfred Stanley Smith, 37, of Sandon Close, Sandy, Bedfordshire, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle and conspiracy to steal motor vehicles between January and October 2012 at Cambridge Crown Court in February. John Christopher Smith, 23, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle.
Upton was jailed for five years; Smith was sentenced to four years and nine months; Alfred Stanley Smith was sentenced to four years; Albert Smith was jailed for four years and nine months and John Christopher Smith was locked up for three-and-a-half years.