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Gang planned ‘audacious’ raid on Newbury’s Banjo Cycles

AN out-of-town gang travelled to Newbury to conduct an “audacious” £49,000 electric bike raid.

A rooftop chase and dangerous car pursuit followed after local residents spotted the heist in action.

The raiders were finally caught and sentenced to 10 months imprisonment each.

But, due to the time it has taken to bring the matter to Reading Crown Court, they will soon be back on the streets.

The court heard Ryan Hodge, Carl Justice and Anthony Robertson had smashed the front window of Banjo Cycles in Hambridge Road and loaded the specialist bikes into a stolen Transit van on October 17 last year.

Tim Naik, prosecuting, said: “When officers attended the scene, that process was still going on.

“The entire front window had been smashed.

“Officers were spotted by the men involved; two of them made off in the van, two of them climbed on to a nearby roof.

“The fire brigade with ladders were dispatched to deal with Justice and Hodge on the roof.”

Mr Naik said a police chase for the van began, during which “dangerous manoeuvres were undertaken”, before the vehicle was finally stopped and Robertson was arrested.

He added: “This was a targeted raid, because even thought a relatively small number of specialist electric bikes were taken – nine in total –- the total value was £49,000, around £5,000 per bike.

“Those nine bikes were recovered from the rear of the van.”

The court heard that all three defendants had a “very substantial” number of convictions for a range of offences.

Robertson had 30 convictions for 87 offences and Hodge had 37 convictions for 76 offences.

Recorder John Ryder KC was told the van which the defendants, all of Slough, Berkshire, had been using was hired from Enterprise but had not been returned.

It was not alleged that the defendants had stolen it, but Robertson admitted being carried in a motor vehicle taken without the owner’s consent.

The van been reported stolen around a week before the burglary and featured false number plates when it was stopped, the court heard.

Recorder Ryder said: “This was an unsophisticated offence, though one which occasioned, doubtless, considerable concern to the shop keeper.

“You were, audaciously, all involved in taking the bicycles – which were undoubtedly targeted because of their high value – out of the shop and putting them into the van.

“You have all been here many times before.

“I can do no better than encourage you to reflect on the effect which your offending and consequent incarceration has on your children and your families.”

Justice, 39, Hodge, 31, and Robertson, 33, were all jailed for 10 months.

Given they had already been held on remand since the incident, this meant they would be released almost immediately.

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