A STEEL erector has been jailed for four-and-a-half years after a raid on a convenience store in a quiet market town.

David Young, 32, of Percy Street, Bishop Auckland, admitted stealing a cash machine, a pick-up truck and a JCB digger, following a ram-raid at the Co-op store in Masham, near Ripon, North Yorkshire.

Teesside Crown Court heard the digger was taken from an isolated farm near Masham shortly before the truck crashed into the Park Street shop and the digger was used to rip the cash machine out of the wall, shortly before 3am, on January 23 last year.

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Lesley Musgrave, who runs Masham News, opposite the Co-op, said she was awoken by sirens and men shouting as the raiders took three attempts to load the machine onto the truck.

She said: "It was like watching a movie from my bedroom window, it was unbelievable. I thought I was still asleep."

The court heard Young had left Masham along the Leyburn Road, before an unsuccessful attempt was made to open the cash machine using grinding tools a short distance from the town.

The cash machine and its contents were recovered by police, along with the digger and the truck.

Later that day, Young and a 27-year-old man were arrested in connection with the burglary. The latter was subsequently released without charge.

Detective Constable Andy Rawlings of Harrogate CID, who led the investigation, said: “While it may have appeared crude, the fact that both the JCB and the pick-up truck were stolen locally just prior to the incident demonstrates a high level of organised criminality.

“The four-and-a-half year prison sentence handed to Young is very satisfying and sends out a very stark warning to other travelling criminals who foolishly believe that North Yorkshire and the City of York is an easy target.”