Members of a gang who abused shoppers, threatened staff and chased children before ripping phones and iPads off walls in 42 stores across London have been jailed for a total of 11 years.
CCTV footage from one attack on their £500,000 crime spree shows a mother sprinting to protect her terrified son as the eight men swamped and then burgled a Carphone Warehouse.
On each occasion the criminals caused ‘total mayhem’ when they stormed high street shops to wrench high-value items from the walls in a series of violent ‘steaming’ raids.
In scenes reminiscent of the recent London Riots, phones and tablet computers worth a total of £143,000 were ripped out by the thieves, while the attacks caused more than £50,000 worth of damage.
The criminals, some of whom were just 14, used the ‘steaming’ technique, where they rob shops or mug individuals by swamping them and threatening them with violence.
The clean-up operation after the raids, which forced some stores to close temporarily, resulted in Carphone Warehouse losing a total of more than £500,000, the court heard.
Passing sentence, Judge Peter Testar said: ‘This conspiracy to burgle consists of a series of offences in which a number of young men rushed into branches of Carphone Warehouse and simply grabbed whatever they were able to and ran away.
‘In some cases, efforts were made to disguise appearances, but in many cases the attitude of those who committed these offences was brazen.
‘Those who have joined the conspiracy have applied themselves to a criminal operation of which the overall effect was very great.
‘The targeting of particular premises and the mob handed means of offending indicates greater harm.
‘The success (of the conspiracy) depended on force of numbers and shock.
‘Many staff and customers were very frightened. Read the rest of this entry »