'Prolific' burglar who 'left victims terrified' after spate of violent crimes in Preston jailed

A man who used weapons including “scissors, a hammer and knives” during a violent crime spree in Preston has been jailed.

By Sean Gleaves
Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 4:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 5:22 pm

Police launched a major investigation following eight robberies at stores in the city in July and August last year (2021).

In one instance, a man – later identified as Leroy Allen – entered the MegaSave in Blackpool Road, Ribbleton, at around 10.55pm on July 18.

As the staff member opened the till to serve Allen, a second man armed with a hammer stormed into the store before demanding cash.

Keith Smith was jailed for 10 years and six months after a violent crime spree in Preston. (Credit: Lancashire Police)

The offender – later identified as Keith Smith – ripped the till out before the pair fled the scene with around £800 in cash.

Allen was later arrested and charged with robbery.

Between July and August, police said they were called to a further seven robbery offences which all involved Smith.

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Leroy Allen was given a three year and six month sentence. (Credit: Lancashire Police)

DC Steve Rotherham, of Preston CID, said: "Smith’s offending was violent and prolific.

“He went on a robbery spree, targeting shops across Preston. His offending left victims terrified and fearing who would be next.

“He used weapons including scissors, a hammer and knives, as well as targeting one shop twice in three days.”

Smith was finally caught after attempting a robbery at the Quick Shop in Ribbleton Avenue on August 3.

The 35-year-old was forced out of the store by staff as officers attended the scene.

Following a short pursuit, Smith was arrested on Blackpool Road and later charged with robbery offences.

Keith Smith, 35, of no fixed address and Leroy Allen, 35, of Sion Hill, Preston, pleaded guilty after appearing at Preston Crown Court on Monday (February 28).

Smith was jailed for ten years and six months, with Allen given a three year and six month sentence.

"Smith is clearly a dangerous offender and his sentence reflects the gravity of his actions,” DC Steve Rotherham added.

“Allen, while limited to the one robbery, was heavily involved and I have no doubt he could have committed further offences given the opportunity.

“Furthermore, I want to thank the teams who have worked across this investigation, including response policing, detectives and crime scene investigators.

This team effort supported the prosecution and have taken two dangerous offenders off the streets for some time."

These were the other offences Smith committed:

A man armed with a knife threatened staff before attempting to steal a cash box from the Post Office in Longridge Road at around 9.30am on July 22.

Two men robbed staff at knifepoint at the One Stop Store in Ribbleton Lane at around 6.50pm on July 30. Cigarettes, tobacco and money totalling £1,180 were stolen.

A man armed with scissors stole £140 after threatening staff at the Tesco Express in Longridge Road on July 31.

A man armed with a knife stole cigarettes, alcohol and money after entering the Spar store in Watling Street Road on August 1.

Cigarettes and money valued at £450 were stolen after a man armed with a knife entered the Tesco Express in Longridge Road on August 2.

A man armed with a hammer stole cash from a till after entering a newsagent in Meadow Lane at around 10.15pm on August 2.

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