Flying Squad investigation catches men responsible for string of burglaries
Three men who were responsible for a spate of burglaries from cash machines using ‘explosive gas’ have been sentenced to over thirty years in jail. The trio stole cash from over 27 cash machines including some in Ealing, Acton, Brentford and Isleworth.
James Duggan, aged 26, from Staines and Anthony Rodwell, aged 26 from Ashford were sentenced this week at Kingston Crown Court to 12 years imprisonment for conspiracy to commit burglary with intent to steal and conspiracy to cause explosions likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property. 26-year-old Trevor Collins received 9 years for the same offences. All three men had pleaded guilty.
The audacious series of offences, investigated by the Met’s Flying Squad, took place between July 2014 and April 2015, primarily in banks and post offices in west London, Surrey and Thames Valley. The gang used a method of entry that was highly dangerous, not only for those committing the offence, but particularly for members of the public either living in properties attached to the venues or passing by. To gain entry to the ATMs, the gang pumped a combustible oxyacetylene gas into the cash machine and then ignited it from around 15 metres away with an electrical charge.
After exploding the cash machine, the gang would then have to break into the venue in order to access the back of the machine. During the ten month crime spree, 19 attempts made by the gang failed. In the majority of failures they exploded the ATM but were unable to access the safe to access the cash. In three cases they were either disturbed or confronted by members of the public and fled the scene leaving their equipment behind. The remaining eight offences resulted in a total cash loss of approximately £356,330 with damage caused to the venues as a result of the explosions totalling £320,055.
CCTV Footage of Some of the Explosions Caused by the Gang
On the night of Monday 6 October 2014 they attacked three ATMs in the local area starting at the HSBC branch in Park Royal Road, the moving onto the machine at Sainsbury’s, The Broadway, Gunnersbury Lane, W3 where they fled after being disturbed by a member of the public. Within an hour they had moved onto the Shell Petrol Station on the Lower Richmond Road. They left empty handed from all three attempts.
Six weeks later they returned to the Sainsbury’s on Gunnersbury Lane but again failed to access the cash compartment of the machine. That same night they also made an attempt to steal from the machine at the Co-op on South Street in Isleworth which also failed but they had more success when an hour later they moved to Esher where they took £54,880 from an ATM at a Post Office.
On Tuesday 18 November 2014 they started at a machine the Greenford Road in Harrow managing to get just £30 from the machine then moving onto the Post Office on South Ealing Road where they caused £23,911 in damage but took no cash before making another attempt at a grocery store in Hounslow. Three nights later they returned to the area to make an unsuccessful attempt at the Post Office on Greenford Avenue.
On Monday 12 January 2015 after being disturbed at a Post Office in Uxbridge they moved on to an ATM outside the dry cleaners at 19 Boston Parade, Boston Gardens, W7 causing £1,100 worth of damage but taking no cash. Three months later after stealing over £50,000 from a cash machine in Northwood they made an unsuccessful attempt at the Dental Surgery, 6 Medway Parade, Perivale
Detective Inspector Scott Hartley, of the Flying Squad, said: "Given that this series of crimes involved 27 offences, it is fortunate that no unsuspecting members of the public were injured. In one case, the front fascia of the ATM and other debris was blown 30 to 40 metres from the scene. If this debris had struck a member of the public or a passing car, the resulting injuries could easily have been fatal."
Flying Squad officers were able to identify Duggan as a suspect after his DNA was found on the inside of the safe door of the ATM robbed in Greenford Road on 18 November 2014. This incident was one of the gang’s unsuccessful attempts to access the cash inside the machine, and they made off with just £30. Having identified Duggan, detectives were able to quickly link his two associates as Rodwell and Collins.
Duggan was arrested on 15 July 2015 and charged the following day. Rodwell and Collins were arrest in August and September respectively. All three were remanded in custody ahead of the trial.
DI Hartley added: "It was sheer luck that nobody was killed due to the actions of this gang. They handled an extremely dangerous substance carelessly and with complete disregard for the safety of others. The level of threat they posed to community safety has been fully reflected in today’s verdicts.
"In addition to the danger the activities of this gang posed to the community, there was extensive damage to a number of small businesses who housed the ATMs as well as significant inconvenience caused to communities who in many cases rely on the use of the ATM itself or the facilities and services provided by the host businesses."
Steve Hurst, Head of SaferCash, said: “These sentences reflect the serious nature of the offences and sends a message out to others who may contemplate this type of crime. This gang embarked on a dangerous nine month crime spree attacking ATM's across London and the southeast. The damage caused has been substantial and the impact to the local community significant. Local stores have been closed for repairs and in some cases the ATM has been removed permanently. The industry has responded by implementing a variety of deterrents to prevent similar attacks in the future.”
February 7, 2017