Members of a Yorkshire robbery gang have been jailed over a series of “professionally planned” ram raids and smash and grab burglaries including one in Rastrick .
Six men were jailed for a total of more than 20 years after a court heard they targeted commercial premises and convenience stores in the city and other areas of West Yorkshire.
Three members of the gang also carried out a robbery in Lincolnshire in which staff were confronted by masked men who smashed a stolen car through the shop’s doors.
Police launched Operation Deltona after large quantities of cigarettes were stolen from convenience stores last year.
Investigators spent months uncovering evidence on the organised criminal gang responsible, and linking them to the crimes through CCTV evidence, DNA and recovered stolen goods.
The gang stole cigarettes when they targeted the Spar store in Outwood, Wakefield, and the Co-op, at West Point, Wellington Street, Leeds, on October 15 and 16 last year.
Days later they returned to the same Co-op and forced their way in through the boarded-up front doors.
The balaclava-clad gang stole cigarettes before making off in a stolen BMW which they were forced to abandon when they crashed it nearby.
A Vauxhall Astra that had been stolen in a burglary in Skegness was rammed into the doors of a Spar shop in Ingoldmells.
Staff were confronted by masked gang members demanding to know where the safe was. They were then assaulted before the offenders escaped with cigarettes and the shop’s CCTV system. They were pursued from the scene by police but officers had to abandon the pursuit due to the dangerous manner of their driving, which included driving on pavements.
Those sentenced were: Noel Heatley, 34, of Richardson Road, Osmondthorpe, who was jailed for six years and nine months for robbery, four offences of burglary, attempted burglary, driving while disqualified, handling stolen goods, theft of a vehicle and being carried in a stolen vehicle. Heatley was also took part in a burglary at Option’s hairdressers, Rothwell, and a B&M Bargains store, on Torre Lane.
Andrew Wagstaff, 29, of Raincliffe Grove, East End Park, jailed for five years and ten months for three offences of burglary, robbery and being carried in a stolen vehicle. Billy Kirby, 22, of Torre Hill, Burmantofts, jailed for four and a half years for robbery, burglary, handling stolen goods and being carried in a stolen vehicle.
Three other gang members were sentenced in relation to a burglary on a Co-Op store in Rastrick. They were: Jason Jones, 25, of Lydgate, Burmantofts, jailed for 18 months; James Hawkins, 25, of Sutherland Terrace, Harehills, jailed for 16 months and Joshua Wannan, 21, of Amberton Gardens, Gipton, jailed for 16 months. Heatley’s partner, Julie Price, 28, also of Richardson Road, was given a conditional discharge for handling stolen goods.