TWO men who were part of a nationwide gang of professional thieves stole £15,000 from elderly victims in Leeds.
A court heard a total of nine vulnerable victims were targeted in Leeds city centre and Wetherby town centre by Gary Addy and Abdul Hassan.
The pair would approach victims as they withdrew money and claimed the machines were broken.
Distraction techniques would then be used such as waving papers in the victim’s face or putting out of order signs on the machines.
Bank cards would then be stolen from the machine by the pair and used to withdraw cash.
Cards were also used to purchase store gift cards which they then used to buy high value goods.
Leeds Crown Court heard Addy and Hassan were part of a larger gang who began offending in London but then headed north to target more victims.
Dave Mackay, prosecuting, said the pair deliberately chose elderly and frail people as “easy targets”.
The pair booked into the Travelodge on Vicar Lane before targeting people in Leeds city centre in June this year.
Bank cards were stolen from four victims at machines on Bond Street and Park Row. Addy and Hassan then drove to Wetherby and targeted people in the market place.
The pair then drove to Sunderland but were caught when a police officer stopped the hire car they were travelling in as the lights on the vehicle were not working properly.
High value goods including a PS4 console, three iphones and a large amount of gift cards were found in the boot along with a gym bag containing £4,500.
The two men are currently serving prison sentences for similar offending in London.
During one offence a victim became suspicious of the pair and began taking photos of them on his mobile phone.
He was assaulted by Hassan and had his phone taken from him. Addy then drove over the man as he was on the ground and broke his leg.
At the time of the offending in West Yorkshire, Hassan was on bail for further offences committed between December 2013 and February 2016 in which 20 victims had over £24,000 stolen from them.
Addy and Hassan, both of Memorial Avenue, Stratford, London, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal, conspiracy to commit fraud and possessing criminal property.
Hassan pleaded guilty to three other offences of theft and asked for eight similar offences to be taken into consideration by the court.
Lawyers for both men said the offences were committed to fund drug habits.
Hassan was jailed for 27 months and Addy for 18 months.
Recorder Jeremy Barnett said: “I have no doubt whatsoever that this is professional crime.
“There are other people involved and this scam and it seems to have started in London and then moved north.
“The message has to go out from this court that this type of professional fraud has to be met with custody. It will not be tolerated. You have targeted vulnerable people using those machines.
“There is evidence that on occasions you watched those cash machines and waited until a suitable victim came forward. You thought your distraction would not work on someone younger and a little more alert - I do regard this as being particularly serious.”