POLICE are closing in on a gang of ram-raiders responsible for a string of shop break-ins across the county.

The Oxford Mail can exclusively reveal that the eight raids, over a period of less than four months, are thought to be the work of one gang operating from outside of Oxfordshire.

The crimes have generally followed the same basic pattern, with thieves using stolen 4x4s to smash their way into supermarkets and convenience stores in an attempt to remove cashpoints.

Shopkeepers, some of whom have been losing sleep over the crime-spree, have been reassured that time may be running out for the thieves.

Police and crime commissioner Anthony Stansfeld said: “This is something we are taking extremely seriously.

“What I can say is that it’s almost certainly one gang from outside of our area.

“Like all these things it takes a few times to catch them. It’s always difficult when it comes from outside the area.

“I am confident that we’re on our way.”

Mr Stansfeld would not go as far as revealing the suspected location of the ram-raiding group, who have hit shops in Oxford, Grove, Charlbury, Chipping Norton, Didcot, Carterton and Bodicote.

Police are working with neighbouring forces and partner agencies as they close in on those responsible.

Meanwhile, many retailers across the country are living with the fear that their shop may be next on the list.

Harish Modhvadiya manages the Premier food shop in Grove, near the Co-op Food that was struck by ram-raiders in January.

Mr Modhvadiya has a cashpoint in his store and does not want to get rid of it as it would inconvenience people in the area.

He said: “I’m seriously concerned about what’s going on. It’s really worrying thinking that they could break into my shop at any time.

“I couldn’t sleep for a few days. I kept checking the cameras.

“They're professional. They can do these raids in five minutes and there are safes in the cash machines so they must have all the equipment.

“I’m just thinking about what I can do to protect my shop. There must be some solution."

Others won't risk having a cashpoint at all.

Krupesh Patel, of Londis in Witney, said: “I’ve had this shop for 33 years and every time somebody calls me up to offer me a cashpoint I say no.

“There would always be that thought in the back of your mind. It isn’t worth it. It’s like a horror story, every time the phone rang at night you would think it was that.”

Another impact of the raids may be a spike in insurance rates for stores with cashpoints, according to retail expert Keith Slater, a member of the Oxfordshire Town Chambers Network.

He said: "This will cause worry among shop owners who have cash machines in their stores. I think this will have an effect on staff and their sense of security. Insurance companies may start asking whether shops have CCTV or other security measures."

p A 37-year-old man from Carterton was arrested on suspicion of burglary in relation to the ram-raid at Waitrose in Botley Road, Oxford, on March 12. He has since been released under investigation.


  • Thieves used a stolen 4x4 to ram into an Aldi supermarket in Chipping Norton in a botched bid to steal a cash machine.

The group targeted the Banbury Road store shortly before 1am on December 13.

Police were dispatched to the scene where they found an abandoned council-marked Land Rover vehicle which had been reported stolen.

The offenders caused damage to the store but escaped empty handed.

Forensic work is ongoing.

  • Ram-raiders hit a Co-op Food store in Charlbury and made attempts to remove the cashpoint.

Staff were called to the store, in Enstone Road, after an alarm was activated.

A white Renault van and a silver Land Rover, both reported stolen, were recovered nearby.

Again, it is believed that the thieves left without successfully stealing any cash.

CCTV and forensic work is ongoing.

  • A gang of thieves hauled a cash machine through the front doors of a Co-op in Grove using a Jeep in a daring late night raid.

Burglars gained entry to the Savile Way store by prising open the front metal shutter at around 11.40pm on January 9.

One man then slid underneath the shutter and tied a chain around the ATM machine inside.

Attaching the other end to their Jeep Cherokee, the gang then hauled the machine straight out the front of the shop and, it is believed, loaded it into the boot then drove off.

Police said three men also wearing hoodies were seen walking from the scene to another vehicle that was parked around the corner. Work with partner agencies is ongoing.

  • Ram-raiders struck again at Aldi in Headington in another failed bid to steal an in-store cash machine.

The group used a stolen Land Rover Discovery to reverse into store, in Horspath Driftway, just before midnight on February 3.

Defeated, they eventually fled the scene empty handed and abandoned the car. Forensic work is ongoing.

  • A gang of thieves used a stolen Land Rover to target a cash machine at Morrisons in Carterton.

The supermarket was closed for much of the day after police said four or five people tried to take the cash point at the shop on Black Bourton Road at about 1.30am on March 8.

They then left in another vehicle, leaving the stolen Land Rover and a blue Volkswagen Transporter at the scene.

It is not clear whether any cash was taken in the raid.

Police are continuing to receive witness statements.

  • Thieves hit a Waitrose in Oxford in an early morning ram-raid style smash-and-grab.

A Land Rover Defender was abandoned outside the main entrance with a cable attached to the rear on March 12.

The cash machine was stolen during the break-in which occurred in the early hours of the morning.

  • A Spar in Bodicote became the seventh store to be hit by ram-raiders.

Four men used a stolen Land Rover Discovery in an attempt to remove the cash machine from the Molyneux Drive shop on March 14.

But the thieves left the scene empty handed, abandoning the stolen vehicle in the process.

The store, which includes a post office, had been burgled on two other occasions in the months leading up to the raid.

CCTV work ongoing and police still are continuing to receive witness statements.

  • Would-be thieves who ram-raided Didcot’s Aldi supermarket used axes and crowbars to try to steal the cash machine.

A blue or grey 4x4 was used to smash through the supermarket in Broadway between 2.30am and 3am on March 23.

Police said ‘a number of men’ attempted to steal the cash machine. The thieves were disturbed by staff and fled the scene. Nothing was taken.

Police are still in the early stages of investigating this raid.