A gang of men which used “highly-dangerous” explosive gas to burst open more than a dozen cash machines and steal over £300,000 has been jailed for 14 years.

The audacious raids, which took place between September 2015 and July 2016, saw the gang target restaurants and corner shops with ATMs across south, north and east London.

The gang of four men broke into the rear of the restaurants and used gas cutters to break open the cash machines from inside the building.

They stole more than £300,000 and during one raid destroyed more than £40,000 in bank notes after setting fire to a cash machine.

At least four residential properties were also broken into by the gang to steal expensive vehicles, which they would fit with false number plates as getaway cars.

During one raid they were confronted by a passerby, who was chased away by members of the gang brandishing sticks.

The gang was only caught after an unsuccessful raid on an ATM in Birmingham in July last year, which led to the group’s arrest as they fled on the M6 motorway.

All four men, their ages ranging from 26 to 32, were sentenced on Friday.

DC Lewis Sanderson from the Met's Flying Squad, said: "These men have showed a callous disregard for the safety of others. It is sheer good fortune that no-one was injured - or worse - as a result of their actions.

"They caused significant damage to a number of small businesses who housed the ATMs on their premises, causing great inconvenience to the local community and huge cost and distress to the business owners themselves.

"I am pleased that today they have been jailed for a significant period of time, reflecting the seriousness of the offences."

James Anthony Whitlock, 32, of Stapleford Close, in Chelmsford, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit non-residential burglary and was sentenced to four-and-a-half years.

Sonny Michael Hagland, 26, of Petersfield Avenue, in Harold Hill, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit non-residential burglar and was sentenced to five years.

Glenn Levi Friend, 26, of Barnfield Road, in Belvedere, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit non-residential burglary and was sentenced to three years.

Callum Jason Brown, 26, of High Street, in Hornchurch, pleaded guilty to non-residential burglary and was sentenced to 20 months, suspended for two years.