Redbridge armed robbers posed as firefighters

A gang of armed robbers who posed as firefighters and terrorised Redbridge businesses have been convicted at the Old Bailey.

On one occasion, in November last year, former police officer Gary Griffiths, of Babbington Road, Dagenham, and an accomplice walked in to Co-op in Fencepiece Road, Barkingside, dressed as firemen before pulling a handgun and forcing staff to open the safe.

The robbers had previously targeted cash-in-transit vans at McDonald’s, High Road, Seven Kings, Tesco, Manford Way, Chigwell, JD Sports, Eastern Avenue, Gants Hill and Chadwell Heath rail station, Station Road.

Six men, all from Dagenham or Romford, pleaded guilty to a string of conspiracy to rob offences. Another, Darren Lloyd of Pettits Road, Dagenham, was convicted last week after pleading not guilty to the offences at the Old Bailey.

Det Sup John Kielty, from the Flying Squad, said: “These men made a lucrative career of carrying out robberies and were a highly organised and violent team. They carefully planned their actions and targets using disguises and firearms during offences.

“The Flying Squad began a proactive operation against these armed criminals to make sure they were held to account for the fear they subjected their victims to during these robberies.

“I’m very pleased at today’s convictions which bring an end to this complex investigation.”

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The nine-month crime spree, which began in March 2010, netted the gang about �200,000.

It ended abruptly in December last year after three of the gang members entered Harvey’s Food and Wine, Goodmayes Lane, Goodmayes, armed with handguns.

Armed police then gave chase and arrested all three men, with three others all later detained by the Flying Squad.

They have been convicted of 30 counts in total, with 16 robberies or attempted robberies on cash-in-transit vehicles and 15 robberies or attempts on other premises.

All seven, plus a firefighter found guilty of aiding them, will be sentenced next month.

Dave Brown, of the London Fire Brigade, said: “If members of the public have any concerns about the identity of our staff they should ask to see their ID card.”