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Detectives on Crimewatch talking about investigation into ATM theft gang


Oct 4, 2022

DETECTIVES have talked about the ‘labour of love’ that put a career criminal and his gang behind bars.

Officers behind Thames Valley Police’s Operation Jackknife earned the judge’s commendation in May this year, when they watched Jimmy Sheen and members of his ATM-blow up gang jailed for a total of 74 years.

Now, the two detectives who led the investigation have spoken to BBC show Crimewatch Live about the effort that went into their two-year probe.

DCI Aidan Donohoe, the senior investigating officer, told the programme on Monday: “It was a huge investigation.

“Operation Jackknife became a labour of love for this team. It ran for two years.

“I think we all recognised that never again in our careers will we investigate anything that has got this sort of breadth and this level of seriousness.”

‘Career criminal’ Sheen, 37 when he was jailed in May, was responsible for planning and executing a series of daring raids on cash machines across the Home Counties.

The gang initially used gas to blow open the ATMs, before changing tack and dragging them from shops using high-powered 4x4s and heavy tow ropes or chains.

Over a matter of weeks, the group also stole £1m-worth of agricultural machinery and smashed their way into the National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket, Suffolk, to make off with priceless race trophies.

The latter smash-and-grab, committed in May 2020, was said by Mr Donohoe to have been done almost ‘on a whim’.

The organised crime group’s activities came to a tragic halt on June 10, 2020, when the Mercedes hatchback getaway car they were driving crashed and one of the gang members, Rocky Broadway, was killed.

Driver Jimmy Loveridge was later jailed for 10 years for causing death by dangerous driving, while two others in the car were also sent to prison for their part in the theft they planned to commit that night.

Detectives pieced together the gang’s activities using a combination of phone evidence, CCTV and searches of a caravan site near Kidlington used as a base by the group. Police analysts also found voice recordings sent between members of the group in which they spoke about their crimes. In one video screened on Crimewatch, Loveridge could be seen showing off six stolen tractors.

Members of the gang jailed in May Pictures: TVP

Mr Donohoe’s deputy, Witney police station-based DI Lorna Briggs, said the team had amassed over a million pages-worth of evidence as the case against Sheen and the gang was built-up.

Jailing Sheen for more than 17 years in May, Judge Michael Gledhill KC said: “Your approach was if it is there to be taken and can be taken, we’re entitled to take it.”

Speaking to Crimewatch on Monday, DCI Donohoe described the gang leader as a ‘career criminal’ and noted that he had previously been jailed for a drive-by shooting. “He has absolutely no compunction in committing any sort of crime,” the detective said.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward