Police chiefs hailed a major success after putting the gang that brought terror to the West Midlands and Staffordshire behind bars.
Clive Willetts Jewellers in Kinver
It was smashed in a joint operation between the two forces that was codenamed Yeoman. It culminated in raids on 24 addresses, spearheaded by armed officers in the early hours of May 4, 2011.
Waheed Zaman, 31 years-old from Great Barr – 10 years in prison
Larry Barnett, 26 years-old from Erdington – six years in prison
Lewis Richards, 22 years-old from Kingstanding – six and a half years in prison
Qaiser Rashid, 27 years-old from Walsall – five years in prison
Levi Melbourne, 24 years-old from Aldridge – six and a half years in prison
Imran Zaman, 23 years-old from Aldridge – nine years in prison
Ryan Jones, 22 years-old from Shelfield, Walsall – nine years in prison
As well as the arrests of several members of the gang, the move also recovered drugs, £10,000 cash, suspected stolen vehicles and an arsenal of weapons.
Detective Inspector Bob Bradford from West Midland Force CID, who led the operation, said: “This has been a long and in-depth operation involving many officers from both Staffordshire and ourselves and so we are really pleased that all of that hard work has paid off.
“This was a team of organised and dangerous criminals and the length of the sentences reflects the seriousness of their crimes. The public and, in particular, businesses will be a lot safer with these men behind bars.”
Dramatic CCTV images were recovered from the scenes of a number of the attacks. They included the gang using a battering ram to force their way into Laxmi Jewellers, where they stole £9,000 of gold rings in a raid that lasted just 25 seconds.
In another attack on the car park of the Church Tavern in Perry Barr, a man is shot by a Tasar before his £25,000 BMW335 is stolen.
Operation Yeoman was launched after a string of robberies and car key burglaries in the West Midlands and South Staffordshire.
The first major breakthrough came as police recovered the get away car used in the raid on the Gold Centre in Sparkhill from the nearby street where it had been dumped.
As the Vectra was put onto a low loader the day after the robbery another car drove into the cul de sac and hurriedly tried to get out again. The suspicious behavior of the two occupants prompted their arrest. They were later revealed to be gang members Imran Zaman and Lewis Richards.
Examination of the CCTV from the William Hill bookmakers, robbed five days before the Gold Centre, showed Richards and another man casing the premises two hours before the raiders struck. Richards turned out to live just yards away and the man with him was later identified as former professional football player Ryan Jones.
The following month a car seen apparently driving in convoy with the £30,000 Audi stolen from Hillwood Road, Sutton Coldfield was later seen again and stopped in Aldridge Road near the spot where the stolen Audi had crashed into a Transit van five minutes earlier.
The car was driven by Waheed Zaman. His passenger was Ryan Jones and in his pocket was found the ignition key for the BMW335 stolen from the car park of the Church Tavern in Perry Barr five days earlier.
When these pieces of the jigsaw were put together they gave detectives a clear picture of their suspects and prompted further inquiries that ultimately led to the successful raids on May 4.
The gang members now face having to repay their ill-gotten gains. Proceeds of Crime proceedings will be launched against the jailed gang members later this year.
Detective Inspector Simon Duffy, from Staffordshire Police’s Serious Organised Crime Unit, said: “There is no hiding place for people who perpetrate this type of crime. They will be caught.”