Four men have been jailed for their part in an organised crime spree of robberies and ram raids across the Midlands. 

Shops were destroyed and staff were terrorised as the gang struck during the first half of 2020.

But now they are beginning sentences of up to 18 years in prison each after a major investigation by our detectives unmasked them.

West Midlands Police said the spree started on January 6, 2020, when the group drove to Stoke-on-Trent in a cloned car and stole two Audis before driving all three back to the West Midlands.

Mark LaneMark Lane (Image: West Midlands Police)

The following day, they used one of the Audis to raid a Subway branch on Parsonage Street, West Bromwich, where they stole a safe and ripped out the CCTV system.

Hours later, they smashed a hole in the side of a garage on Penn Road in Wolverhampton, ransacking an office and stealing tools, before moving on to a money transfer shop on Tividale Road in Tipton. 

They ripped open a roller shutter at the shop and tried to remove a safe, but they were disturbed by officers and fled.

Dean IsittDean Isitt (Image: West Midlands Police)

The gang’s spree continued for months and included: 

- An armed robbery at a shop on Castle Road West, Oldbury. 

- A failed attempt to force open a cash machine at a shop on Washwood Heath Road in Birmingham.

- A raid on a shop on Dibdale Road, Milking Bank, Dudley, where they blew up a cash machine using gas but failed to get to the money. 

- A burglary at Cannock Hospital.

- A ram raid at a shop on Lichfield Road in Walsall Wood.

John WilliamsonJohn Williamson (Image: West Midlands Police)

On March 6, the group went on to strike at a shop on Warstones Lane, Wolverhampton, trying to drag a cash machine from the shop but failing when the straps snapped.

On April 25, police tried to stop a van carrying one of the gang, Mark Lake, but he performed a U-turn and drove the wrong way up the Junction 7 slip road on the M6, before re-joining the motorway on the wrong side of the road.

He drove for around half a mile at speed in the wrong direction on the hard shoulder.

Darren FitzpatrickDarren Fitzpatrick (Image: West Midlands Police)

On June 4, the masked gang stormed into a store on Turners Lane, Brierley Hill, where they ripped the panic alarms from staff and started removing the tills.

On June 7, the group committed their final robbery at a store on Howley Grange Road, Halesowen.

Masked and armed with hammers and crowbars, they ran into the shop, terrifying an elderly customer and threatening the staff forcing them into the rear office.

They smashed and took the tills and demanded access to the safe, but failed to get in.

Officers moved in four days later when three of the men, Mark Lake, Darren Fitzpatrick and Nicholas Collins, were travelling together in a red van bearing cloned number plates in the Oldbury area.

Driver Collins rammed officers to get away but officers were able to bring the pursuit to a safe end.

Nicholas CollinsNicholas Collins (Image: West Midlands Police)

Collins was Tasered as he tried to flee, while Lake was pinned by his hip in the damaged vehicle. Fitzpatrick was found in a rear partition of the van.

Dean Isitt was then arrested attempting to flee from his home address on Clyde Street, Old Hill.

On Monday, July 1, at Birmingham Crown Court, following a trial and a number of guilty pleas, they were sentenced.

Mark Lake, aged 43, of Westbourne Road, West Bromwich, was jailed for 18 years for conspiracy to commit robbery and conspiracy to burgle.

Dean Isitt, aged 45, of Clyde Street, Cradley Heath, was jailed for 16 years for the same offences.

Darren Fitzpatrick, aged 38, of Trafalgar Court, Tividale, was jailed for 13 years for the same offences.

Nicholas Collins, aged 41, of Oldbury Road, West Bromwich, was jailed for six years and 20 months for conspiracy to burgle and driving offences.

Reinforced van Reinforced van (Image: West Midlands Police)

A fifth man, John Williamson, aged 42, of Queens Road, Smethwick, was given a 21-month jail sentence, suspended for two years for conspiracy to burgle.

DC John Marsh, of our Major Crime Unit, said: "This was a prolonged series of really serious offending, which saw innocent members of the public terrorised in their workplaces as this gang used force to steal from shops and businesses around the region.

"The CCTV released today shows just how ruthless and reckless they were.

"This was not a case with a lone piece of damning evidence, but rather the cumulative effect of many smaller pieces of evidence collected during a detailed investigation.

"We pulled together mobile phone evidence, along with details of vehicle movements and forensics from items left at the scene of the gang’s crimes to build a really compelling case."