THREE men have been sent to prison for a total of 14 years for robbing two Co-op stores in Burton – part of a crime spree involving supermarkets across the Midlands.
Amandeep Singh, Ryan Landon Shaw and Jani Joseph Wright were sentenced at Stafford Crown Court after all admitting their part in a string of raids at Co-op stores across the area – including the Co-op in Woods Lane, Stapenhill, on March 7, and the Co-op in Church Hill Street, Winshill, on June 15, both in 2012.
The ‘Co-Op Gang’ would pounce just before closing time, threatening shop staff and forcing them to open tills and safes.
Officers investigating the case revealed staff in both Burton branches were left ‘traumatised’ following the raids and hoped that this would offer them some kind of closure.
A video recording of the incident at the Woods Lane store showed three masked men bursting into the store just before closing time, bundling the staff in to the office where they were forced to open the safe.
Around £1,300 sterling and 1,900 in euros were stolen.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Clews, senior investigating officer, said: “The sentences, following a detailed investigation, are to be welcomed and send out a strong message – this area’s forces will work closely together to ensure those causing significant harm will be caught, charged and put before the court.
“These crimes were committed against hard-working members of our communities and left several of the victims traumatised. I hope the prison sentences in some way help to bring closure.
“I personally would like to thank the Co-op management team who have been excellent in their support of the investigation, and this team work has culminated in the results we see.
Singh and Shaw were jailed for four and a half year years and Wright to five years. All three men were charged in connection with 15 robberies at Co-op stores across the Midlands during a 10-month period in 2012.
The trio, all from Birmingham, were arrested as part of a cross-county operation into the robberies.
Led by Staffordshire Police, a host of forces collaborated to target the individuals responsible.
CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE: Statement-
PAUL Spratt, senior crown advocate from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This is an extremely dangerous gang who, over a 10 month campaign of terror, attacked small local retail stores in mainly residential areas.
“They would enter the store in the final minutes of closing time and use threats of verbal and physical violence in order to gain compliance from the staff on duty and gain access to the store safe.
“We must be thankful that no was seriously harmed during their spate of robberies.
“This was a complex prosecution which involved liaising with six different police forces in order to build a strong case against the gang members who had been arrested.
“Staffordshire Police conducted a very full investigation, and this enabled the investigation and Prosecution to be concluded so effectively
“I would like to take this opportunity of sending out a reassurance message to the local communities that the criminal justice agencies are all working together to target, disrupt and prosecute gangs such as this one in order to make the Midlands a safer place.”
The robberies saw a total of more than £32,000 plus £3,790 worth of euros or dollars stolen.
There was a total of 15 robberies that took place across the whole West Midlands.