Jailed: Ram-raiders who stole £300,000 from shops in six counties

Tony Smith, 19, (top right) and Charlie Oakley, 26, (bottom right) have been jailed for eight ram-raids across eastern England, including a Co-op store in Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire (left) on March 3. (PA)

Two ram-raiders who smashed their way into shops across six counties steal £300,000 have been jailed.

Tony Smith, 19, and 26-year-old Charlie Oakley used stolen Land Rovers and Audis for ramming stores and as getaway vehicles in raids across eastern England in March and April this year.

The pair’s two-month smash and grab spree saw them wield four by fours, crow bars and cutting gear, finally ended when they were caught mid-raid at a Co-op store in Isleham, Cambridgeshire, on April 17.

The One Stop Shop targeted by Smith and Oakley as part of a £300,000 ram-raid spree on eight businesses across eastern England. (PA)

Despite the thieves being stopped short after eight raids, police have confirmed they have been unable to recover any of the £300,000 ill-gotten gains.

Police said the crime spree left the affected businesses with a collective bill in excess of £250,000.
Both men previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle in respect of eight ram-raids, and were handed a combined 11 years behind bars following a hearing at Peterborough Crown Court on Wednesday.

Smith, of Schole Road, Willingham, Cambridgeshire, was sentenced to five years in a young offender institution, and Oakley, of George Street, Shefford, Bedfordshire, was jailed for six years.

Tony Smith, 19, left, and Charlie Oakley, 26, right. Smith was jailed for five years, Oakley was jailed for six years, for eight ram-raids on stores in eastern England. (PA)

Detective Inspector Trevor Davidson, who led the investigation for the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit, said: “This ruthless cross-border crime blitz saw hundreds of thousands of pounds being stolen, not to mention the significant amount of damage caused to the businesses affected, and the multiple vehicles stolen from innocent people across the region.”

The ram-raiders first targeted a Co-op store in Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire, on March 3, using a Land Rover to smash their way in before removing a cash machine containing a “significant amount” of money.

They went on to attack a Co-op store in Long Bennington, Lincolnshire, with a stolen Daihatsu 4×4, an Aldi in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire – though this attempt was unsuccessful – and the Guineas Shopping Centre in Newmarket, Suffolk.

The scene Gamlingay Co-op after Smith and Oakley carried out a ram-raid on March 3 as part of a £300,000 crime spree. (PA)

Also targeted were a Premier shop in Finedon, Northamptonshire, and a Co-op in Fulbourn, Cambridgeshire, where the raiders wore balaclavas and boiler suits.

Their last raid before police disturbed them at Isleham was at a One Stop convenience store in Feltwell, Norfolk, where they arrived in two stolen Audis and used a disc cutter to break into to the shop and steal a cash machine.

A 17-year-old, from Market Harborough, Leicestershire, who cannot be named due to his age, has admitted the same offences and will be sentenced later this month.