Two thieves who set ‘cash traps’ to steal from customers at cash machines have been jailed.

Sebastian Vizir, 35, and Lucian Martinica, 29, both of Harrow, used the devices to trap bank notes inside machines when customers tried to make withdrawals.

But bank staff spotted the fraud and after a successful investigation by the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU) - a specialist police unit funded by the banking and finance industry - they pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal.

The two men were sentenced on June 16 at the Inner London Crown Court to a combined total of four years and six months in prison.

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Vizir and Martinica targeted ATMs at locations across north and west London, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey and Northampton between December 1, 2021 and February 1, 2022.

The device was inserted into a cash machine’s dispenser, meaning that when unsuspecting members of the public tried to withdraw money, the notes were trapped inside. The criminals would then return and retrieve the device and the money.

The pair stole more than £20,000 in cash and caused £60,000 worth of damage to the machines when retrieving their victims’ money.

CCTV evidence from the ATMs identified Vizir and Martinica at a series of affected machines.

Officers from the unit arrested them both while they were trying to steal money from a supermarket ATM in St Albans on February 1.

A search of one of their home addresses uncovered a number of the devices in various states of preparation, along with the raw material and tools to make the cash traps.

Vizir and Martinica each received a sentence of two years and three months for committing conspiracy to steal.

Detective Chief Inspector Gary Robinson, who is head of the unit, said: “This sentencing is a warning to those who believe they can benefit financially from fraud that they will be caught and punished.”

“The DCPCU is working tirelessly with the banking and finance industry to disrupt the organised criminal gangs behind fraud and protect the public.”