Members of a criminal gang which raided more than 20 isolated convenience stores carried on their crime spree despite receiving suspended sentences for previous convictions.

The four men, aged between 23 and 27, stole more than £250,000-worth of cigarettes and alcohol and caused £25,000 worth of damage in raids on stores in Norfolk, Sussex, Kent and Dorset last year.

They were finally apprehended during an attack on a Co-op store in Swanage, Dorset, and sentenced to up to five years’ imprisonment.

Detective Sergeant Rob Haines, from Kent Police, said: “These men targeted businesses across four counties in their desire to steal thousands of pounds-worth of cigarettes and, in doing so, left behind tens of thousands of pounds-worth of damage.”

Judge Andrew Patience QC described the men as “habitual criminals”. Two of them were serving suspended sentences and all four had previous convictions for dangerous driving.