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14 May 2015, 06:48
Norfolk Police have seized assets worth thousands of pounds believed to have been bought with the proceeds of a string of cash machine raids.
About 140 officers were involved in the raids on properties in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire; Potton, Bedfordshire; and Upwell, Norfolk, earlier today.
They seized cars, a caravan and plant machinery, and uncovered cannabis factories in Potton and Upwell capable of producing drugs with a combined street value of up to £54,000.
The addresses are linked to three men - Joseph Upton, John Smith and Albert Smith - who were part of a gang jailed for a total of 22 years for their involvement in a series of ram raids across East Anglia in 2012, Cambridgeshire Police said.
The operation involved officers from Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Police alongside officers from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU).
Detective Chief Inspector Chris Balmer, from ERSOU, said: "The ram raids not only cost the banks a huge amount of money, but also impacted on rural communities who lost their access to cash machines not to mention those who had their cars and machinery stolen by the gang in order to carry out the crimes.
"Today's operation is about securing assets owned by some of the offenders who carried out the raids.
"The message should be clear that crime does not pay and we will continue to pursue criminals after they have been convicted at court in order to strip them of any assets they may have gained through their criminality.''
The gang carried out smash and grab raids at 12 banks and businesses and six burglaries during a nine-month crime spree.
They used JCB vehicles to smash into businesses before ripping out cash machines, used cutting equipment to help themselves to more cash and escaped in vehicles they had plundered in burglaries across Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Lincolnshire.
In total, they got away with #301,560 from cash machines and stole cars and jewellery worth more than #100,000. They also caused damage totalling #250,000.
The assets will now be held as part of the ongoing confiscation investigation into the defendants.
A court will eventually decide what assets the men will have to give up.