June 20 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
A GANG of university students which attacked mobile phone shops in a series of organised robberies has been jailed for more than 60 years.
The 13 member mob targeted 17 stores, in London, Hertfordshire and Essex, between March and September of 2010.
Three key ring-leaders, who all attended the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, planned and recruited others.
They initially used ‘insiders’ or distraction techniques.
But as they became more confident, the gang progressed to regularly using force, or the threat of force.
In one instance the criminals took ID from a member of staff and threatened to visit them at home if they co-operated with police.
The series was investigated by the Met Police’s National Mobile Phone Crime Unit (NMPCU), which designated it Operation Straten and was led by detective sergeant Mike Martin.
It culminated in 14 suspects being charged and found guilty at Kingston Crown Court.
The 14th defendant was the mother of one of the ring-leaders, who was found guilty of money laundering the proceeds of the crime spree he orchestrated.
Detective inspector Mark Loving of the NMPCU described the gang as “intelligent and reasonably well-off” people, who had been motivated by “personal greed”.
He said: “They used wholly disproportionate intimidation to commit these offences – and I am pleased to see that those who orchestrated these often violent offences received appropriately longer sentences.”
During a flowing appraisal of the police operation, he described DS Martin’s “encyclopaedic knowledge” and “unstoppable investigative drive and fastidious attention to detail” as the reason why the group has been put away for “considerable periods of time”.
Det insp Loving added it was a “phenomenal result for the public, the mobile phone retail industry, and the Metropolitan Police Service”.