A taxi driver who ferried a gang of ‘Lebanese Loop’ thieves around West Herts was spared an immediate jail sentence on Wednesday 18th June.
The 36-year-old took the men to three Barclays cashpoints. They slotted a wire loop, coated in superglue, to catch customers’ cards and a tiny pinhole camera was used to secretly record their PIN numbers.
Prosecutor Geoffrey Porter said the driver did not get out of the car, which was first seen in Church Street, Rickmansworth on 21 December 2012, where a Lebanese Loop had been installed at the local Barclays.
The next day another device was installed at the branch in St Albans Road, Watford at twenty to four. Then forty minutes later another was found at a branch of Barclay’s in Prestwick Road, South Oxhey.
A suspicious member of the public called the police and the defendant was arrested in his taxi. Tools, gloves and superglue that had been bought from Watford’s B & Q store were seized. He also had £140 on him. The notes were in sequential numbers indicating they had come from a cashpoint, said Mr Porter.
When questioned he told the police he was being paid £25 by a gang from South Harrow. He said he knew nothing of their illegal activity.
The prosecutor said it was not known how much money they had stolen. Only one other person had been arrested and he had been sentenced to 18 months.
The defendant, who now lives in Worthing appeared for sentence having pleaded guilty on the first day of his trial last month to conspiracy to steal. He was of previous good character.
Andrew Kerry, defending, said that at the time he was driving a 7 seater minicab and pressure had been place on him to drive the others around. He said he was of previous good character and had not been in trouble since his arrest nearly two and a half years ago.
Mr Kerry asked the judge not to send him to jail, saying he had now taken himself away from the area and was working in a food store in Sussex.
Recorder Anthony Clover agreed and passed an 8 month jail sentence suspended for 18 months and ordered him to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work. But the judge told him: “This was a serious episode of criminal behaviour. “
He ordered that the items recovered from the car and the £140 are forfeit.