Moped-riding thieves who snatched £22,000 cash box jailed for 18 years

Moped-riding thieves who snatched £22,000 cash box from Sainsbury’s in £50,000 spree that hit high-end west London department stores are jailed for total of 18 years

  • Alfie Atherton, 29, and Reed Roberts, 30, targeted several businesses in London
  • They used stolen mopeds and concealed their identities with full-face helmets
  • Flying Squad detectives linked the pair to previous crimes in the West End 
  • The pair pleaded guilty and were yesterday jailed at Snaresbrook Crown Court 

Two moped-riding thieves who stole more than £40,000 in cash and perfume in a series of heists in London’s West End have been jailed.

Alfie Atherton, 29, and Reed Roberts, 30, targeted several businesses between January 29 to March 3 last year.

The pair used stolen mopeds with fake number plates and concealed their identities with full-face motorcycle helmets and high-vis jackets to carry out raids across the capital.

On Friday at Snaresbrook Crown Court Atherton was sentenced to 10 years and six months’ in jail while Roberts was locked up for seven years and six months.

At an earlier hearing, Atherton pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery, two counts of attempted burglary and one count of possession of a bladed article in a public place while Roberts pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery.

Alfie Atherton (pictured) has been jailed for 10 years and six months’ in jail after pleading guilty to pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery, two counts of attempted burglary and one count of possession of a bladed article

Reed Roberts, 30, was locked up for seven years and six months after pleading guilty to two counts of robbery

The pair were convicted following an investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service’s Flying Squad.

Detective Constable Lenny O’Keeffe, the investigating officer, said: ‘Atherton and Roberts caused chaos in the West End, even threatening and using violence, in their bid to steal cash and high-value goods.

‘Atherton even caused more than £45,000 worth of damage to two stores when he attempted to steal even more expensive goods.

‘They soon discovered that crime does not pay and thanks to the investigative work by the Flying Squad, they will instead be spending a lengthy period of time behind bars.”

On February 1 2020 a cash delivery was about to be made to a supermarket in Clerkenwell Road when the guard was confronted by a man wearing a fluorescent yellow jacket and a black motorcycle helmet, who attacked his arms and forced the victim to release the cash box.

The suspect grabbed the cash box and jumped onto a nearby waiting moped, which made off at speed. The driver of the moped was wearing a green jacket with a lighter coloured logo near the wrist.

A witness later saw two men cutting the cash box open an angle grinder in nearby Marjery Street. The suspects gained access to the box, which contained £22,000. They took the money, left the box and rode away again on the moped.

Detectives from the Flying Squad began investigating and made numerous enquiries, including reviewing CCTV, and tracked the moped to a gated residential car park in Flaxman Terrace.

The pair were seen arriving in convoy in two different cars, a Nissan Qashqai and a Vauxhall Astra, before pulling on their disguises and leaving on the two-wheeled machine.

Detectives linked the crime to a ‘smash and grab’ robbery at a high-end department store in Marlborough Street, W1B, three days earlier.

At about 1.15am on January 29 2020 two men on a moped threw a large concrete slab through a window of the store – which cost more than £1,000 to repair.

One of the suspects – later identified as Atherton – climbed through the hole and filled a very large, white rubble sack with more than £20,500 worth of a high-end brand of perfume and aftershave. He was wearing a black full faced crash helmet, blue top, black waterproof trousers and black gloves.

As he was leaving the venue and dragging the bag towards the moped, he was confronted by a store security guard. Atherton then produced a large ‘Rambo’ style knife and said “get back or I will stab you.”

The thieves made-off along Carnaby Street where they decanted some of stolen products and dropped the knife.

They were again spotted on CCTV entering the car park in Flaxman Terrace.

Footage released by Metropolitan Police showed the pair putting items from the perfume store into a large white bag 

They were confronted by a security guard who was threatened by Atherton with a large ‘Rambo knife’ and told to get back or he would be stabbed

Following further enquiries, detectives also linked Atherton to two attempted ‘smash and grab’ burglaries at designer stores in New Bond Street in the early hours of 3 March 2020.

At about 1:40am on 3 March 2020, four suspects on three mopeds were seen driving along New Bond Street. The mopeds approached a designer shop and one of the bikes rammed the front door, causing the door to break.

The moped continually rammed the security shutter, but the suspects were unable to gain entry. The moped was left in the doorwell and the suspects made off in the wrong direction along New Bond Street.

Shortly afterwards, the suspects approached another designer store and attempted to smash the glass front window with a concrete block. However, the suspects were forced to flee when a security guard in the road reversed his vehicle into one of the bikes, causing some bodywork or plastic trim to break off the bike. The debris from the moped was later seized by police.

The moped is seen outside the perfume store after the break-in in footage released by the Metropolitan Police

CCTV footage captured a man – later identified as Atherton – carrying a white motorcycle helmet at the car park in Flaxman Terrace. He later drove off on a moped. After the incident, the moped returned to the car park in Flaxman Terrace driven by Atherton – who was wearing the white helmet.

The damage to the two designer stores totalled more than £45,000.

After gathering enough evidence, Flying Squad detectives arrested Atherton and Roberts at their home address on 11 June 2020.

The knife recovered from the crime scene which was dropped in Carnaby Street after being used to threaten a store security guard 

When detectives searched Roberts’ address, they recovered the clothing worn by the suspect in the shop of the ‘smash and grab’ robbery on 29 January 2020 as well as the fluorescent jacket and a black motorcycle helmet worn by the suspect in the cash in transit robbery on 1 February 2020 and the green jacket worn by the getaway moped driver. Detectives also recovered six bottles of the same brand of aftershave stolen during the robbery of the department store.

The Qashqai captured on CCTV was also registered to Roberts. When officers searched the vehicle, they found a quantity of cutting disks – as used in angle grinders – in the boot.

Forensic evidence also linked Atherton to the concrete block thrown through the window of the department store on 29 January, 2020 as well as the ‘Rambo’ knife used in the robbery which was dropped in Carnaby Street.

The court heard that the car park in Flaxman Terrace was the ‘staging area’ which Atherton and Roberts used prior to and post each offence. Neither lived at the address and could not account for why they had access to the car park.

Atherton and Roberts were both charged on 12 June 2020 and were convicted as above.

The court heard that both defendants have previous convictions for ‘smash and grab’ robberies in the West End.

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