PUB RAIDERS who pocketed £30,000 from pub fruit machines have been jailed for a total of 17 years.
Noel Lacey and Adam Power broke into 32 licensed premises across the country, including 10 in the West Midlands, before being caught by West Midlands Police.
Lacey and Power began their campaign at Droitwich pub the Copcut Elm on January 22 this year where they forced open a side door and bagged £1,000 in coins – repeating the trick just 15 minutes later at The Golden Lion in Bromsgrove.
On January 26 they made off with £2,000 from fruit machines at the Unicorn in Alspath Lane, Coventry, and went on to attack pubs in Halesowen, Birmingham and Sandwell.
During their two-month burglary spree the pair also targetted the Bell Inn, City Arms and Devonshire Arms in Coventry; the Hunting Tree in Halesowen; the Glassworks in Stourbridge; the Crown in Alcester Rd, Kings Heath; Smethwick’s Pheasant Inn; Sutton Coldfield pub The Fox Inn; and the Bristol Pear in Selly Oak.
During several of the jobs the pair disturbed licensees sleeping upstairs and on one occasion attacked two staff members they encountered.
In a bid to avoid capture, 40-year-old Lacey and 38-year-old Power decided to cast their net wider – targeting venues in Hereford, Banbury and Cannock.
But when they pulled onto the car-park of Essex boozer Man in the Moon, Harrow, in the early hours of April 1, West Midlands Police were waiting.
Driver Lacey ? who along with Power used three different hire vehicles as getaway cars ? tried ramming past a blockade of unmarked police vehicles but the duo, along with accomplice Wayne Hawkins, were dragged from the BMW and arrested.
he BMW hire car was found to be running on false plates, while two holdalls containing a large quantity of pound coins and two lump hammers were found in the boot; a later search of Power’s home address also uncovered a stash of fruit machine takings.
Lacey, from Sibdon Grove in West Heath, and Power from Crychan Close in Hawksley, went on to admit conspiracy to burgle and one count of robbery at the Royal Hop Pole pub in Tewkesbury where they threatened staff.
They were jailed for seven-and-a-half and six-and-a-half years, respectively, while 28-year-old Hawkins, from Hollybank Road in Billesley, admitted taking part in the last four raids and was jailed for three years at a hearing at Birmingham Crown Court on August 11.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Darren Brown, said while there was ‘nothing sophisticated’ about the burglars’ tactics – forcing windows and doors open before taking sledgehammers to games machines – there was a degree of planning.
He added: “We seized CCTV from pubs in the days leading up to attacks that showed them casing up the venue, seeing what machines they had, and the best entry points.
“And they were always in and out within two minutes.
“Fearing we were on to them they started offending outside the West Midlands area ? but we already had them in our sights and an operation on April 1 followed them to Essex where all three were arrested as they planned raid number 32.
“They have rightly been handed significant jail sentences.”