GANG members who carried out two smash and grab raids at Brufords Jewellers have been jailed.
And it has emerged that the robbers will not have to pay a penny back in compensation to their victims as they blew all the proceeds of their crimes on cocaine and alcohol.
The gang, all from London and the south east, were sentenced at Kingston Crown Court last week by Judge Richard Southwell who told them they had taken part in ‘professionally planned, commercial robberies’.
The gang committed 34 raids on shops between January 2008 and May 2009 including two at Brufords in Cornfield Road when high value watches were stolen.
The first was on January 21 2008 and the second on October 23 2008.
The court heard a gang of five or six men in the main, would target a shop usually in provincial towns like Eastbourne, but sometimes in London or in the outskirts and very often a reconnaissance trip would be conducted.
The gang always travelled to the premises in two or more cars, sometimes arriving the night before.
When the gang struck, they would be wearing paper boiler suits and masks to hide their identities and arm themselves with hammers, axes, knives, gas canisters and spray.
The judge said many people, whether staff or members of the public, who witnessed these events spoke of their fear, stress, and sometimes anger and others talked of their anxiety and sleeplessness, many of whom have sought counselling to come to terms with what happened.
Prosecutor Brian O’Neil told the court, “The gang members lived their lives in the fast lane as a result of committing these crimes and there wasn’t investment in tangible assets or putting money away for the long term or the medium term. The benefits they obtained were used on drink and drugs in many cases.”
The offenders were among a total of 51 people convicted at separate hearings between 2008 and 2010 after a police operation linked 38 robberies across London and the south between January 2008 and May 2009.