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Seven years custody for Cash in transit robber

G4S Secure Solutions (UK And Ireland) : 10 December, 2009  (Technical Article)
The final member of a violent gang of criminals involved in robberies against affluent women and CIT couriers has been convicted on SmartWater stain evidence
At Southwark Crown Court, the final member of a violent gang who committed a number of robberies against cash in transit (CIT) couriers has been jailed for his part in these crimes.

Thomas Pulhofer, aged 21 was jailed for seven years on Friday 4th December at Southwark Crown Court, for a series of violent 'strangulation' robberies; two cash-in-transit robbery offences; and one aggravated taking and driving away offence.

It is understood that Pulhofer was the final member of a gang involved in a series of violent robberies on CIT couriers in the UK. Earlier this year, Christopher Ryan and Nicholas Bidar were sentenced for their part in these crimes, with Bidar receiving a 17 year imprisonment for two CIT robberies and using a firearm with intent to resist arrest. His colleague Christopher Ryan was given a six month sentence, suspended for two years and an 18 month supervision order for handling stolen goods.

Bidar had traces of SmartWater security dye on his hands and clothing, containing a chemical trace which placed him at the scene. He was also found in possession of dye stained cash containing SmartWater samples from two separate robberies.

Kevin O'Connor, Risk Director, G4S Cash Services (UK) said: "This particular case highlights the fact that those involved in CIT robberies are often involved in other criminal activities within their local communities. These individuals displayed a total disregard for the safety of members of the public, police officers and our crew members. We welcome this sentence, which sends out a strong message to those considering attacking a CIT courier. "

Phil Cleary, Chief Executive of SmartWater Technology said: "In this instance SmartWater assisted the Police to link the gang to more than one robbery, which had a significant impact on their sentences. The evidence provided by SmartWater is undeniable and has a 100% conviction rate when used in court. We will continue to assist the Police and our partners within the CIT sector to help secure criminal convictions of this type."

By working closely with the police and key stakeholders G4S will continue to play its part in developing a joint approach to tackling the wider issues of crime in the community on both a national and local level. The CIT industry is vital to the economic liquidity of the UK where cash remains the consumer's preferred method of payment. Each year the CIT industry transports around £500 billion, equivalent to £1.4 billion per day, by around 8,000 couriers using a fleet of some 4,000 vehicles.

Background details of offences committees:

In the robberies affluent-looking women were carefully selected and subjected to brutal ordeals. One of the victims was knocked unconscious; one was attacked in front of her young child and her baby threatened, and another had her finger broken when her jewellery was seized. The victims were left traumatised and suffering long lasting effects from the impact of the incidents. The robberies are believed to have netted in the region of £150,000.

Pulhofer and his associate/s would target a victim on the driveway of their home or on the street near it, attempt to strangle them and forcibly remove their rings/earrings, sometimes threatening them with weapons prior to seizing the jewellery.

In the first incident, on the 12th May 2009, a woman was walking with her baby in Dawson Place, Paddington, when she was attacked. One of the robbers squirted the woman and her baby's pram with a washing up liquid type-substance prior to forcibly removing her jewellery and a bag. He also threatened to harm her baby. Pulhofer pleaded guilty to this.

The second victim was pounced upon on the 15th May as she was getting out of her car on her driveway in Frognall, Hampstead. Pulhofer ripped off her jewellery, breaking her finger in the process. Another man, Thomas Knapper, aged 22 of Maida Vale, had also pleaded guilty to, and was sentenced to 27 months and three weeks for one offence of handling a stolen vehicle in relation to this incident.

The following day, 16th May, two women were walking along Maygrove Road, West Hampstead, when two men, one of whom was Pulhofer wielding a hammer, came up to them. Pulhofer threatened his victims with the hammer before robbing them of their jewellery.

London Crime Squad undertook the proactive Operation Roby to investigate this series of offences. Following forensic work on samples recovered from the robberies Pulhofer and Knapper were identified.

At 15.17hrs on Wednesday, 17 December 2008, two uniformed police officers in a marked police car spotted a stolen silver Audi in First Avenue, W10. They followed the car to Herries Street, W10 where it stopped.

One of the officers got out of the police car and one of the suspects got out of the rear of the Audi. He aimed a handgun at the female officer and was seen to pull the trigger at least twice. A bystander heard a number of clicks as opposed to a discharge coming from the gun.

The officer was able to shout a warning to her colleague who reversed the police car away.

The Audi drove off at speed pursued by the police car until it slowed down in Elkstone Road, W10 where at least two further shots were fired at the officers. As other police cars joined the pursuit the Audi collided with one of the vehicles at the junction of Alfred Road and Harrow Road, injuring the officers inside. A male officer required hospital treatment for a head injury as a result and has since made a full recovery and returned to work.

Following the collision, the suspects ran from the Audi and it is believed further shots were fired. Despite this, the unarmed officers pursued the four suspects and arrested two of them, pulling one out of the Grand Union Canal where he had jumped in a bid to escape.

Area searches by officers led to the recovery of dye stained gloves and a loaded 9mm Baikal handgun, and traces of SmartWater dye were found on one of the suspect's hands' and clothing. A quantity of coins found in the Audi were traced back to the Cricklewood robbery and other notes found in the suspects' possession were found to have traces of dye containing a SmartWater forensic signature which was traced back to the Queensway robbery.

Following enquiries Pulhofer was arrested on 22nd June 2009 and subsequently charged as above.

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