Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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Police foil attempted ATM theft in a Sussex village

A masked man, Alfie Smith, was jailed again after police prevented a ram raid burglary at a store in a West Sussex village. Smith was among an organized gang who used a stolen JCB to smash into the Co-Op in The Square, Barnham, in the early hours of 4 July.

However, their plan to take the cash machine and its contents was scuppered as police swiftly responded to a report of a theft of a telehandler at a nearby yard. Using local knowledge and suspecting the vehicle may be used for criminal activity, they carried out a search of known ATMs in the area, which led them to the scene.

As they arrived, two suspects were able to make off in a stolen vehicle, but Smith was detained following a short foot chase. He was subsequently charged with trespassing with intent to steal and aggravated taking of a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent, and remanded in custody.

He pleaded guilty to both offenses and was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment at Lewes Crown Court on 2 August. However, the offense was committed while Smith was on temporary release from prison, where he was serving a 14-year sentence for a series of similar offenses which he was convicted of in 2019. He was therefore ordered to serve the remaining 10 years of that sentence on top (16 years total).

Investigating Officer Sam Doyle, of West Sussex CID, said: “This footage shows the clear intent by Smith and his associates to steal an ATM from a village store, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage in the process. They had clearly prepared for this operation in advance, but they hadn’t prepared for police to respond so quickly.

“I’d like to thank the numerous victims, witnesses and companies who provided statements and CCTV, which gave us vital evidence to secure Smith’s conviction.

“I’d also like to extend my gratitude to the dedicated staff and officers who have been involved from the start of this fast-moving and multi-department investigation.

“I acknowledge the significant impact this incident would have had on residents in this small and quiet village, as well as the businesses that suffered financially.”

A 37-year-old man from Aldershot in Hampshire was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit burglary and has been bailed until 5 October as the investigation continues. Anyone with any information that could assist police is asked to report it online or call 101, quoting Op Milson. You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report it online.

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