DAWN raids involving 150 police officers have led to the arrest of five people suspected of using explosive gas to break into cash machines, including one at a Brockenhurst convenience store.
The New Forest incident last September was among 12 committed at sites across Hampshire and Surrey between August 2019 and 19th January this year.
Today (Tuesday) two men from Southampton and two men and a woman from Farnborough, with ages ranging from 22 to 33, were detained by officers, Hampshire police has announced.
As reported in the A&T, the shopkeeper at Brockenhurst’s Premier store, Cemal Gunduz, said he feared for his family’s lives when the explosion went off on the outside wall in Lymington Road at about 1.25am on 3rd September last year.
He was asleep above the shop, where he lives with his wife and two children, when he was awoken by a loud bang and the burglar alarm sounding.
Nothing was stolen and the damage was confined to the ATM – but Mr Gunduz feared the incident could have had tragic consequences for himself and his family if the flames had spread.
The other ATM raids involved shops, banks and a post office in locations including Southampton, Petersfield and Fareham.
A Hampshire police spokesperson said: “Four men and a woman were arrested today, (Tuesday), in connection with a series of ATM thefts where explosive gas was used to try and break into the machines across Hampshire and Surrey.
“The arrests occurred as part of a series of dawn raids involving 150 officers at addresses across Hampshire.”
He added: “They were all arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to cause explosions on dates between 14th August 2019 and 19th January 2020.”
A woman (33) and a man (25), both from Farnborough, were later released under investigation.
This article was amended on 29th January 2020 following an update from Hampshire police.