Dawn raids have resulted in the arrests of five men as part of an investigation into a series of high-value attacks on ATMs across Scotland and England.
The men, who are aged between 27 and 41, have been taken into custody where they will be interviewed by detectives from ‘Titan’, the North-west’s regional organised crime unit. Three will be questioned on suspicion of conspiracy to cause an explosion (contrary to the Explosive Substances Act 1883) and conspiracy to burgle commercial premises (contrary to the Criminal Law Act 1977).
A sixth man was arrested in St Helens having been wanted on warrant for failing to appear at a court in Scotland. And a seventh man from the West Midlands was arrested in his prison cell and will be interviewed under caution about the ATM offences.
The search warrants took place in St Helens, Huyton, Wavertree, and Prescot and are the culmination of a seven-month investigation led by Titan and assisted by detectives from Police Scotland.
Detectives on both sides of the border have been investigating a series of attacks on ATMs as far south as Swindon in Wiltshire and as far north as Kingswell near Aberdeen dating back to late 2014.
Offenders using high-powered tools such as saws were found to be cutting their way through the shutters of stores containing stand alone ATMs inside. Once inside the shop offenders would wrap straps or chains around the ATM and secure them to a stolen vehicle to then drag out the machine to steal it. Once safely away from the scene the offenders would break open the ATM to get at the cash inside.
In other incidents, instead of dragging out the ATM from the shop, offenders would instigate a small explosion within the machine itself using tubing and gas canisters to blow it up from the inside, exposing the cash.
Investigating teams from Titan and Police Scotland discovered that both methods caused huge amounts of damage to the ATMs, the shop or bank they were part of, as well as putting passers-by at significant risk.
Head of Titan, Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Green said this morning’s arrests were a result of a long-standing relationship with colleagues at Police Scotland.
He said: “Titan exists to tackle criminal gangs operating beyond traditional police force borders and who pose the greatest threat and risk to our entire region. We have developed a really strong working relationship with our colleagues in Police Scotland and it is through this that we spotted a common methodology being used to access the cash in ATM attacks on both sides of the border. A criminal gang was travelling significant distances to the south of England as well as to North-east Scotland to commit these crimes and causing a huge amount of damage and risk to the public in the process.
“By working alongside our counterparts in Police Scotland for the past seven months we have been able to gather enough evidence to make today’s arrests and our enquiries will now continue as we question the people we have in custody.”
Detective Chief Inspector Alex Dowall from Police Scotland, said: “These arrests follow an unprecedented level of joint working between Police Scotland and Titan in what is a complex investigation involving specialist resources. Crimes of this nature are rare but impact on our local communities and these communities can be reassured that Police Scotland will use every resource available as apart of our commitment to keeping people safe.”