Watch angle grinder gang cut into railway ticket machine
PUBLISHED: 11:20 10 June 2014 | UPDATED: 15:29 10 June 2014
An angle grinder gang is being hunted by police after more than £3,000 was stolen from railway station ticket machines.
The gang’s trail of destruction
Saturday, 19 April Brookmans Park station: £750 stolen, more than £23,000 worth of damage.
Monday, 21 April Bayford railway station: £23,000 worth of damage.
Sunday, 18 May Watton-at-Stone and Oakleigh Park stations: £900 taken and £30,000 worth of damage.
Monday, 19 May Hadley Wood station: £650 taken and £23,000 worth of damage.
Friday, 23 May Welham Green station: £850 was stolen and £7,000 worth of damage.
Since April six stations have been targeted by the power tool-wielding crooks, causing more than £100,000 worth of damage.
In a bid to catch the thieves British Transport Police (BTP) has released CCTV stills and footage of three main suspects cutting into the machines.
Brookmans Park , Welham Green and Watton-at-Stone’s stations have all been targeted in a two month spate, which has seen six successful heists.
Detective Constable Nick Thompson, leading the investigation, said: Detective Constable Nick Thompson, leading the investigation, said: “I am now confident this spate of thefts is the responsibility of the same gang of three men.
They target smaller stations in the early hours when there are no staff on duty and the last train has gone.
“They arrive as a group, head straight to the automatic ticket vending machines and set about a sustained attack using heavy-duty cutting equipment and pick axes.”
“The dramatic CCTV video shows the men in action, attacking the ticket machines with an angle grinder and forcing the front open to get at the cash boxes inside. While the men did attempt to disable the security cameras at some stations, there is still good quality footage, including clear images of one man’s face.”
The first raid took place midnight on Saturday, April 19, at Brookmans Park.
After tampering with security cameras, the gang managed to get away with £750 in cash, and caused more than £23,000 worth of damage.
Three weeks later Watton-at-Stone and Oakleigh Park were attacked in the early hours of Sunday, May 18.
The gang got away with more than £900 and caused £30,000 worth of damage.
Welham Green was the scene of the last attack on May 23, where £850 was stolen and £7,000 worth of damage was inflicted.
The investigation is part of Operation Captivity, a nationwide effort to catch criminals who target ticket vending machines at railway stations.
Tony Holland, First Capital Connect crime prevention manager, said: “Last year we invested £700,000 to upgrade our CCTV systems and ensure we had coverage at every single station. We’re pleased that has paid off in providing an image of these criminals whose actions have caused so much damage. Please come forward if you recognise any of the members of this gang.”
DC Thompson added: “The money stolen in these attacks really does pale into insignificance when you consider the cost of the damage – which is estimated as thirty-three times the value of the cash taken. These thefts haven’t just hit the rail industry financially, they’ve also caused disruption and inconvenience to passengers, with ticket machines taken out of service for repairs.
“I am doing everything I can to catch the individuals responsible as I believe it’s only a matter of time before they strike again. If anyone recognises the men pictured, or thinks they may have witnessed the incidents taking place, please get in touch.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40, or text 61016, quoting reference ESUB/B9 of 04/06/2014. Information can also be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.