31/01/2011

Distraction Cashpoint Thieves Jailed

A gang of distraction thieves who preyed on vulnerable members of the public as they were withdrawing money at cashpoints have been jailed for a total of ten years.

The gang were led by Wilmer Cardenes, 38, in committing offences in Brighton and Crawley. Cardenes also worked with a different set of individuals to target vulnerable victims in London and Northampton.

The four adult members of the gang involved in the south coast offences, all of no fixed abode, were sentenced at Hove Crown Court.

Cardenes was jailed for five years for three counts of conspiracy to steal, one count of assault (ABH) and possessing an offensive weapon. A charge of conspiracy to rob against him will remain on file.

The gang members who were Cardenes' accomplices involved in the offences in Crawley and Brighton were sentenced as follows: Genaro Martinez-Morales, 43 was jailed for two years for one count of conspiracy to steal.

Berthan Rodriguez-Olmes, 48 was jailed for 18 months for one count of conspiracy to steal.

Maria Salguerra-Guerra, 45 was jailed for 18 months for one count of conspiracy to steal.

The method used by Cardenes and his various accomplices was to identify potential targets immediately outside or inside banks, often retaking their places in the queue for the cashiers' desks in order to observe better. A substance would often be thrown on the clothing of the victim, who would be surrounded by members of the group and offered help, thereby creating a diversion allowing other members to steal the cash the victim had just withdrawn.

In one case, Cardenes working with other individuals not involved in the Hove Crown Court case, followed a 69-year-old London woman who had taken out £5,000 from the Santander bank in Dalston Lane, Hackney onto the bus she was catching home. Other accomplices followed by car. After the victim had got off the bus and was walking to her house they marked her by spraying a foul-smelling substance on her coat and stole the cash.

In Northamptonshire, Cardenes, again working with different individuals to the three sentenced at Hove Crown Court, identified a female victim in her 50s who withdrew £2,500 from a Natwest bank in the Drapery, Northampton. When she got back to her vehicle in the car park, she found her tyres were deflated. The group offered their help and as she was distracted they stole the money and made off.

In Crawley, Sussex, in November, 2010, Cardenes and Martino-Morales, identified a male victim in his 40s who was followed into the HSBC bank. He was sprayed with a yellow liquid, believed to be mustard, but the gang eventually decided to leave him alone after the victim became suspicious.

Later the same day, Cardenes and Martino-Morales picked up the two women in the group and the four travelled on to Brighton, where they targeted a retired man who had just withdrawn a large sum of money in the Halifax in the town centre. The money was specifically to help his student daughter.

The gang followed their victim into Marks and Spencer, where they sprayed his coat with a white substance, then purporting to be good Samaritans approached with tissues offering to help clean him up. One took hold of the victim's bag, and stole the envelope containing the cash.

The group were stopped at a later point after they had left the scene by car. All the money was recovered from the car, including their most recent victim's money from the Halifax in Brighton, which was returned to the victim.

DC Matt Haslam, of the MPS London Crime Squad, said: "I am pleased with the sentences which I hope will offer some comfort to victims and also serve as a deterrent to others who seek to target vulnerable individuals, particularly the elderly.”

(BMcN/GK)

Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

12 April 2011
Gang Members Jailed Over Teenage Girl's Murder
Two gang members have been sentenced to life for the murder of a 16-year-old girl in London. Two further juveniles have been convicted of firearms offences and assisting those involved in the murder. Agnes Sina-Inakoju died two days after the shooting on 14 April 2010 at Hoxton Chicken and Pizza in Hoxton Street, north London.
09 July 2009
Gang Members Jailed For Teenager's Murder
Six members of a gang have today been sentenced over the death of a 14-year-old schoolboy who died in a park in Hackney. Shaquille Smith was attacked by a 10-strong bicycle gang called the London Field Boys last August as he sat in the park in front of his home in Hackney, east London. The Old Bailey heard the gang had "violence on their minds".
28 November 2008
Biker Gang Members Jailed For Life For M40 Motorway Murder
Seven members of the Outlaws motorcycle gang have been jailed for life for murdering Hell's Angel Gerry Tobin. Mr Tobin was shot dead on August 12 last year, as he travelled along the M40 motorway on his way home from the Bulldog Bash festival in Warwickshire.
30 March 2010
First Victims' Commissioner Appointed
Louise Casey has been appointed as the UK's first independent Victims' Commissioner, Justice Secretary Jack Straw announced today. Today's announcement comes as part of a package of reforms designed to improve the support and services available to victims and witnesses.
31 October 2013
Robber Who Shot Fife Victims Jailed
A 20-year-old man who shot two women in Fife during an attempted robbery has been sentenced to over five years in jail. Oatis Fowler was sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh on Tuesday, having previously pled guilty to assaulting the two women, with the intent of robbing them.