'Skull Cracker' robber captured in armed raid

The convicted robber known as the Skull Cracker has been arrested after an armed raid in Surrey this morning. Police say Michael Wheatley - who fled Standford Hill open prison on Saturday - has been detained.

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Photo shows moment of armed robber's capture

A photo provided to ITV News by a witness shows the moment that the convicted robber known as the 'Skull Cracker' was detained by police officers in east London.

The moment when police officers captured the 'Skull Cracker'. Credit: ITV News

Police had been searching for Michael Wheatley after he failed to return to an open prison in Kent after being released on temporary licence.

  1. London

Hunt for 'Skull Cracker' ends in high speed police chase

According to an eyewitness police caught Michael Wheatley after a high speed police chase which ended with a black BMW crashing into a block of flats near Mile End Tube station.

I heard all these sirens and looked out to see a black BMW smash into one of the new blocks of flats.

I couldn't believe what was going on. Two men were in the car, one got out and did a runner but the other one was on the ground at the foot of police in seconds.The police were on them in seconds. The other man was caught running down the street moments later. All of a sudden there were around eight police cars, marked and unmarked, on the street, blocking everything off.

– Eyewitness, speaking anonymously


Michael Wheatley's history of robberies and bank raids

The Skull Cracker has been arrested in East London along with a 53 year-old man on suspicion of conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

But Michael Wheatley has a long history of crime, as this timeline reveals:

  • 1980s - Michael Wheatley is jailed for a post office raid, goes on the run to commit nine armed robberies and is jailed in 1989 for 16 years.
  • 1992 - Wheatley is released to visit optician, goes on the run and commits eight raids.
  • 1993 - Jailed for seven years, on top of the 20 he's already serving.
  • 2001 - Wheatley is released on parole from his cumulative 27 year sentence. Within weeks he commits the first of 13 bank raids over 10 months.
  • 2002 - Wheatley handed 13 life sentences of which he must serve at least eight years.
  • May 3, 2014 - Released on temporary licence from Standford Hill open prison in Kent, fails to return and the alarm is raised.
  • May 5 - Sighting in Twickenham, but he is not found.
  • May 7 - A Chelsea Building Society in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey, is robbed. Wheatley is arrested later in East London.

'Skull cracker' arrest over conspiracy to commit armed robbery

Detectives said that a 55-year-old man and a 53 year-old man were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit armed robbery following a raid at a building society in Sunbury-on-Thames this morning.

I would like to thank the local community for their assistance and patience as we conducted extensive enquiries this morning.

We have been liaising with colleagues at Kent Police and the Metropolitan Police as part of our enquiries and two men have now been arrested in connection with this offence.

– Detective Chief Inspector Chris Raymer, of Surrey Police

The 55-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of being unlawfully at large.

  1. London

'Skull cracker' in custody after Tower Hamlets arrests

Kent Police, in partnership with officers from the Metropolitan Police Service, have arrested two men in East London on suspicion of conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

On 3 May, Kent Police began a search for Michael Wheatley, who had failed to return to HMP Standford Hill after being released on temporary licence.

At 2pm on 7 May two men, aged 55 and 53, were arrested in the Tower Hamlets area and are now in police custody. The 55 year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of being unlawfully at large.

– Kent Police


Robber was armed with gun and threatened bank staff

A robber, suspected to be the 'Skull Cracker', was armed with a gun and threatened a member of staff at a building society in Surrey before demanding money from a safe and escaping with cash.

The robber was armed with a gun, police said. Credit: Emma Wright / ITV News

The robbery happened at 10.20am this morning and the offender, who has not yet been identified, has been described as a white man, in his late 40s or early 50s, around six foot tall, slim to medium build, with short grey hair, Surrey Police said.

He left the bank on foot but police are also looking into the possibility he may have got into a vehicle.

Detective Chief Inspector Chris Raymer, of Surrey Police, said: "Officers were at the scene within minutes of the emergency call and are doing everything possible to find the offender including recovering CCTV from the premises and surrounding area."

"Due to the nature of the offence and elements of the description, we have linked in with Kent Police as part of our enquiries and are working closely with them and colleagues in the Metropolitan Police however, at this time, the identity of the offender has not been established," he added.

Police cordon off suspected 'Skull Cracker' robbery site

Armed police have cordoned off the area around the Chelsea Building Society branch in Sunbury-on-Thames which was robbed earlier today.

Pictures: Police outside robbed Surrey building society

Investigations are underway to discover whether the escaped prisoner Michael Wheatley, known as the "Skull Cracker", was responsible for the raid there this morning.

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