Three members of a burglary gang who raided a village store at Pulham Market have been jailed.
The men caused £7,000 worth of damage when they smashed their way into Sam’s Local Shopper and post office at The Green in the early hours of November 7 last year.
Once inside they stole cash, £2,000 worth of postage stamps and £2,500 worth of cigarettes and tobacco.
At Ipswich Crown Court on Tuesday, Alan Loveridge was jailed for five years, Steven Allum for four years and Michael Smith for five and a half years.
Loveridge, 47, of Moorsfield, Great Cornard; Allum, 28 of Henry Street, Debenham and Smith, 29, of Mill Lane, Ellingham, had all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary between June and November last year.
Prosecuting, Peter Gair said the gang had targeted rural shops and businesses to steal cash, cigarettes and anything else that could easily be converted into cash.
Other village post office stores at Peasenhall and Glemsford were also raided.
At Glemsford an unsuccessful attempt was made to rip a cash machine from its mountings inside the shop.
At Great Tey, near Colchester, gang members rammed three times the car of a farmer who had gone to see what was happening at a nearby industrial unit. He fled when he was approached by men brandishing a hammer and a crowbar.
Police used hidden roadside automatic number plate recognition cameras to help link the burglaries by tracking stolen vehicles being used by the gang.
It had been the role of Allum, a father of two, to help steal the vehicles needed for the crimes, said Mr Gair. Allum was caught when his DNA was found on the ignition unit of one of those vehicles.
Jailing the gang, Mr Recorder Gerard Pounder said: “This was a commercial criminal enterprise. Small businesses were targeted, businesses which by their nature cannot afford the same degree of security as the larger food stores.
“They are businesses that provide an essential service to rural communities.”
Speaking after sentencing Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Millar who lead the investigation said: “Loveridge, Allum and Smith were an organised crime group who posed a significant threat and had a huge impact on businesses in rural communities across a wide geographic area and people living locally nearby.
“We welcome the sentencing at court which follows a lengthy and detailed investigation involving forces from across East Anglia.
“Hopefully the sentencing will go some way to reassuring people that this group will no longer be operating and show Suffolk Constabulary is commitment to investigating offences such as these.”