A sophisticated gang of thieves broke into cashpoint machines at supermarkets across Warwickshire using hydraulic tools which had been paid for by the police.
They were among £3,000 worth of equipment bought by Greater Manchester Police for an informer who was living in Leamington under a witness protection scheme.
Four members of the Rugby-based gang went on trial at Warwick Crown Court last week after denying a charge of conspiracy to steal.
But as the trial entered its second week yesterday, three of them changed their pleas to guilty.
Mark Bale (30), of Rankin Close, Rugby, was jailed for five years and Robert Wesley (22), of the same address and described as a talented footballer who was once on the books at Wolverhampton Wanderers, for four-andahalf years.
Ben Gowdy (21), of Lea Crescent, Rugby, was jailed for 30 months.
Bale and Wesley, who had denied a further charge of laundering money from the raids - which was left to lie on the court file - were given consecutive three-month sentences for breaching Asbos banning them from associating with each other.
An alleged fourth gang member, Trevor Goodwin (27). formerly of The Rylands, Lawford Heath, Rugby, was acquitted after Adrian Keeling, prosecuting, said he would offer no further evidence against him.
Goodwin, now of Drews Court, Churchdown, Gloucester, is to be sentenced at a later date for burgling Bale's flat earlier this year, which he has admitted.
Lewis (40), of Warwick Street, Leamington, was not charged, but is now in custody on another allegation.
Judge Richard Bray pointed out that the tools had been provided by the Greater Manchester Police as part of a witness protection plan to enable Lewis to get work.