A MOSSLEY man has been jailed for 16 years for his part in a £1.5million crime spree.
Gareth Robinson, 29, of Border Mill Fold, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle, conspiracy to steal and possession of criminal property. He was also found guilty of conspiracy to rob.
He was among 11 of 13 men who have been jailed for a total of more than 116 years at Minshull Street Crown Court.
The prosecution follows Operation Hansford by GMP Oldham’s Challenger Team.
The court heard how between July 2018 and May 2019, the brazen group committed 58 burglary and robbery offences across Greater Manchester, Derbyshire, West and South Yorkshire and Lancashire.
The group would target both private dwellings and commercial buildings, often committing up to four or five offences a night.
They would steal high powered vehicles, safes, cigarettes and alcohol.
In total, about £1.5m of property was stolen and approximately £230,000 worth of damage was caused to properties, both commercial and residential.
When committing the offences, the offenders would use machetes, sledge hammers and crow bars to force entry, and would use these weapons to threaten both the public and police officers when challenged. Using stolen cars, the group would ram-raid properties to gain entry.
On one occasion, officers stopped a vehicle for displaying false number plates, unaware the occupants had just burgled a commercial property where they forced entry by using sledge hammers to smash through a wall.
The offenders stopped the car and two men emerged from the rear passenger seats – wearing Scream masks – and savagely attacked the police vehicle with sledge hammers.
The police officers weren’t injured but the car had to be recovered and sent for repair before it could return to the roads.
On another occasion, a number of the offenders were detained by officers following a commercial burglary of a chip shop. The co-accused then confronted the officers – brandishing an axe – and assisted the offenders in escaping.
On a third occasion, two victims were alerted via phone to a possible break in at their home. On returning, the victims caught the offenders attempting to steal their two cars, an Audi S3 and a Kia Rio. The offenders struck the female victim with the car door before they fled with both vehicles. Both cars were recovered by police days later.
However, as the car was being recovered by police from Royton on January 6, 2019, the gang re-stole the Audi by attacking the recovery truck and threatening a police officer and the recovery agent with sledgehammers.
Four of the offenders were arrested after a burglary at a commercial property in West Yorkshire. A further nine were arrested during police raids in Oldham as part of Operation Hansford.
Detective Inspector Rachel Smith, of GMP’s Oldham division, said: “This dangerous group showed blatant disregard for the safety of others as they savagely attacked members of the public as well as police officers and security staff.
“Their greed showed no limits as they committed numerous offences across the north, and the severity of this type of criminal behaviour and the impact it has on communities should not be underestimated.
“Their actions caused substantial damage to a number of commercial properties, causing significant inconvenience to business owners and the public.
“I would like to thank the dedicated officers in GMP and across other forces who have been committed to bringing these offenders to justice.”
The others jailed for conspiracy to commit burglary, steal and rob, were: Kieran Daubney, 29, Near Birches Parade, Oldham; Peter Clarke, 33, Elm Road, Oldham; Ryan Stewart, 36, Brooklands Drive, Royton; Steven Anderson, 39, Grampian Close, Chadderton; Matthew Bowers, 34, Carnation Road, Oldham; Clifton McGowan, 29, Oldham Road, Failsworth; Samuel Locke, 29, Whetstone Hill Lane, Oldham; Lee Robinson, 36, Harewood Drive, Royton; Carl Burke, 31, Ashton Road, Oldham, while Robert Kelsall, 33, Timperley Close, Fitton Hill, was jailed for drug offences, handling stolen good and possession of criminal property.
Kieran Pollitt, 23, of Milnrow Precinct, Milnrow; and Ryan Catton, 34, of Rockley Avenue, Barnsley, will be sentenced in May.