A prolific burglar from Wigan, who used explosives to blast three cash machines from their moorings as part of a nationwide crime spree, has been jailed for 12 years.
Detectives say the attacks by Alfie Adams and his accomplices could have had “devastating consequences”, as they targeted convenience stores, garages and post offices across several counties.
In just three months career criminal Adams, 39, of Platt Bridge, was involved in 23 break-ins - but the most serious came when explosive charges were fitted to three cash machines in two village Co-op stores, in Cambridgeshire and Leicestershire, and a Tesco Express in nearby Hinckley, causing damage totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Adams, of Millers Lane, and his partners-in-crime Charlie Smith, 31, from Lutterworth, and John Doran, 20, from Leeds, admitted to eight burglaries and asked for up to 15 similar offences to be considered. Smith was jailed for 10 years and seven months and Doran for nine years.
The trio also pleaded guilty to three offences of causing an explosion likely to endanger life or cause serious damage to property, and to stealing a car in Nuneaton.
Between September and November last year, the gang is thought to have escaped with thousands of pounds following break-ins in Coventry, Northants, Norfolk, Gloucestershire and Monmouth.
Speaking after the case, Det Chief Insp Martin Smalley said: “These three men caused hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage to stores across the region, taking a very blasé attitude to their own, and the public’s safety.
“The volatile gas mixtures they used to cause the explosions could have had devastating consequences.
“These crimes were very visible in the community, and the impact felt by residents and business owners was significant. The reliance on these ATMs by such small rural communities was great. But the fear and discord caused by these attacks in what was often the heart of their village was much greater.”
DCI Smalley said the disruption caused by the gang’s actions had been considerable and he hoped now that a sense of safety and security could return to village communities in the area.
Adams is no stranger to the courts - he was jailed for 40 months in February 2016 when he was part of a gang which stole around £2m worth of high-powered cars across Greater Manchester and Cheshire.
He also served a 12-year sentence for a string of distraction burglaries across the north-west, imposed in 2006.