Ram raiders who stole an ATM from a newsagent in Northfleet have been jailed for a combined total of 22 years.

Joseph Hoadley and Grant Searle stole the machine from a High Street off licence in November 2019 and later robbed staff at a second shop in Ebbsfleet.

Both men were also responsible for breaking into numerous homes across GravesendDartford and Meopham.

L to R Searle and Hoadley desktop
Left to right: Grant Searle and Joseph Hoadley

They were both sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday 2 July 2021.

CCTV footage of the cash machine theft

Ram raid

Shortly after midnight on Thursday 28 November 2019, both men used a Ford Transit van to break into Northfleet Food and Wine.

The van repeatedly reversed into the shop front, causing damage worth around £11,000, before Hoadley entered the premises and attached a cord to the ATM. The cord was then connected to the Transit, which was used to force the machine free.

Searle then drove away in the Transit, while Hoadley left the scene in a Ford Fiesta.

Around 40 minutes after the raid took place, a Kent Police patrol located the Transit, which had been abandoned under a railway bridge in Lodge LaneCobham.

The cash machine was found in the back of the vehicle and the offence was clearly captured on CCTV.

Searle and Hoadley shop damage desktop
Pictures of the damage caused to the shop during the cash machine theft

Shop robbery

Ten days after the ram raid, both men robbed shop staff at a Co-op in Talbot Lane, Ebbsfleet.

Searle approached a shop worker, who was stood behind the till, and told him to place his hands in the air. He and Hoadley then escorted the victim to the rear of the shop.

Once inside the stock room, Hoadley threatened a second employee with a hammer before the offenders went on to remove a large amount of cash from the shop’s safe.

They then left the scene in a black Mercedes.

Searle and Hoadley cash machine desktop
The cash machine in the back of the stolen van

Burglary series

Hoadley and Searle were also responsible for burglaries which saw properties across Gravesend, Dartford and Meopham targeted between 25 November and 4 December 2019.

Both offenders stole two vehicles during an overnight burglary of a home in Oaklands Road, Dartford. A home in the Riverview Park area was also targeted during a daytime burglary.

They additionally targeted two homes in Wrotham Road, Meopham, stealing a car and an air rifle in the process.

A luxury watch was also stolen from a home in Freeman Road.

Locating the offenders

Using a variety of evidence, including roadside camera footage, mobile phone checks and a review of CCTV, officers were able to track both men to a hotel in Clipper Boulevard, Dartford, where they were detained on 13 December 2019.

Inside the hotel room, officers located various items of clothing that had been worn during the Co-op robbery.

Both men have been held on remand since their arrest.

  • Hoadley, 26, of no fixed address, admitted conspiring to burgle a business, conspiring to burgle homes and robbery. He was sentenced to 10 and a half years.
  • Searle, 29, of no fixed address, admitted conspiring to burgle a business, conspiring to burgle homes and robbery. He was sentenced to 11 and a half years. In addition to these matters, he was sentenced for five offences which were committed outside of Kent and dealt with by a different police force. These consisted of two counts of fraud, handling stolen goods, possessing ammunition when prohibited from doing so and possessing articles for use in fraud.

Exceptional harm

Chief Inspector Junior Dann, Kent Police’s District Commander for Gravesham and Dartford, said: ‘These two men are prolific thieves who caused exceptional amounts of harm to the victims they targeted.

‘Their offending was remorseless, exceptionally callous and demonstrated an alarming willingness to use violence if they did not get what they wanted.

‘They have proven themselves to be a considerable danger to the public and I have no doubt they would have continued to offend if they were not apprehended when they were. I am pleased that we have secured justice for each of the victims.

‘Their detention and subsequent imprisonment is a testament to the first-class expertise of numerous policing teams, not least our Serious Organised Crime Unit, the Chief Constable’s Crime Squad, our North Kent Criminal Investigation Department and the Gravesham Local Policing Team. These teams have achieved an outstanding result that has doubtlessly made north Kent safer.’

By Ed

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