A hole-in-the-wall gang who used explosives to blow up cash machines and steal nearly £800,000 were jailed for a total of 82 years.
The Huyton-based organised criminals used oxyacetylene gas tanks , crow bars, cutting torches and angle grinders to attack 31 cash machines first at banks in the midlands and later across Merseyside and the north west.
Five men appeared for sentence at Liverpool Crown Court after two of them were found guilty at trial and a further three pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle and conspiracy to cause explosions between January and December at an earlier hearing.
Several suspects remain on the run while others will face trial later this year.
Moving into summer they hit cash machines at banks and post offices in Merseyside and the north west during which they took more than £550,000 in cash, a quarter of a million of which was stolen on the same night, and accidentally blew up £20,000 in bank notes.
The gang travelled in powerful Audis, some them stolen, with fake number plates and would jemmy open an ATM in order to explode them with home made gas bombs inserted inside.
In an early raid the burglars even stole the door off a cash machine safe so they could study blueprints on the back at their leisure.
CCTV of one of the raids was shown in court as the a five man team of masked burglars worked on a machine in Warrington before inserting a home made bomb and lighting it with matches on the end of a long wire.
An early break in the case came when police uncovered a “quartermaster’s store” of criminal equipment at a lock up in Elm Street, Huyton, dubbed “The Batcave” by one gang member, which contained burglars’ kits of black clothing and masks, a stolen and re-sprayed Audi, printers for false licence plates and axes, crowbars and gas cylinders.