In an audacious attempt to rob a local Co-op, Alfie Smith, a man on temporary leave from prison, orchestrated a ram-raid burglary involving a stolen JCB telehandler.
The incident occurred in the early hours of July 4 in Barnham, near Chichester, West Sussex.
Smith was part of a gang aiming to make off with a cash machine and its contents.
However, their plans were thwarted when the police intervened, responding to a report of the stolen JCB from a nearby yard.
Police Swiftly Respond to Foil Robbery Attempt
Sussex Police, acting on their suspicions that the stolen JCB was intended for criminal activity, carried out a search of ATMs in the vicinity.
This proactive approach led them to the scene of the robbery attempt.
While two suspects managed to flee in a stolen vehicle, Alfie Smith, aged 43 and hailing from Ashford, Surrey, was arrested after a foot chase.
He was subsequently returned to prison and sentenced to an additional six years behind bars.
A 37-year-old man from Aldershot, Hampshire, was also arrested in connection with the case on suspicion of conspiracy to commit burglary.
He has been bailed until October 5 as the investigation unfolds.
Dramatic Footage and Legal Proceedings
Footage captured the dramatic moment when the stolen JCB rammed into the Co-op’s cash register.
The swift intervention by the police is evident in the video.
The footage also shows Alfie Smith, wearing a balaclava, being unmasked and detained by the authorities.
Smith faced charges of trespassing with intent to steal and aggravated taking of a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent.
He was held in custody and eventually pleaded guilty to both offenses on August 2 in Lewes Crown Court.
Extended Sentence Due to Previous Convictions
Due to the circumstances surrounding the crime, where Smith was on temporary leave from a 14-year prison sentence for similar offenses committed in 2019, his sentencing took a unique turn.
In addition to the six years for the recent burglary attempt, Smith was ordered to serve the remaining 10 years of his previous sentence.
This cumulative sentence totals 16 years.
Investigation and Impact
Investigating Officer Sam Doyle from West Sussex CID expressed the evident premeditation behind the robbery attempt, acknowledging the damage caused and the clear intent of the criminals involved.
He praised the swift response of the police, as well as the cooperation of victims, witnesses, and companies that provided crucial CCTV evidence.
The incident undoubtedly had a significant impact on the local community and businesses affected.
Veritech Security, which provided security services to the construction site, played a pivotal role in the incident’s resolution.
Their self-learning analytic CCTV system detected the intruders, allowing for a rapid response by their team and coordination with Sussex Police, ultimately leading to the arrest of the offenders.
The failed cash machine heist stands as a testament to both the dedication of law enforcement and the importance of community collaboration in preventing and solving criminal activities.