Marcus Piper, 27, of no fixed address, was sentenced at Basildon Crown Court
Piper had committed robberies, an attempted robbery and an aggravated burglary over the course of three months in 2020.
Detectives worked tirelessly to identify Piper, and we issued an appeal for his whereabouts on social media and through the charity Crimestoppers offering a reward.
Information from the public helped Police intelligence teams to track down Piper, and he was arrested by the Southend Proactive Team on 21 October last year.
It followed the robbery of one taxi driver on Colchester Road in Southend on 22 August, of another on Tickfield Avenue on 5 September, and the attempted robbery of a third the following day on Palmerston Road in Westcliff.
On 12 September, he’d used a knife to intimidate an employee at Station News, in Shoebury, threatening to “cut [his] throat” and stab the victim, before demanding money from the till and taking three packets of cigars from behind the counter.
Piper dropped the knife and a packet of cigars near to Shoebury train station, and these were forensically recovered to add to the case against him.
On 14 October he threatened to kill an employee at the Londis newsagents in Ronald Park Avenue, Westcliff, if he did not give him the money from the till. He was, again, armed with a knife.
Piper forced entry to a property on Rochford Road, Southend, armed with a baseball bat and caused injuries to one of the occupants before stealing electrical items from the victim.
It’s estimated that Piper stole around £2,500 in total from his victims.
At Piper was sentenced to 13 years in prison for the aggravated burglary. He received four years for each of the robberies of taxi drivers, and six-and-a-half years for each newsagent charge. These sentences will run concurrently to the aggravated burglary sentence, and he must serve two-thirds of his time in prison before being considered eligible for parole.
Detective Inspector Steve Franklin, who manages Southend CID, said: “Piper continually targeted people who were just doing their job during a really difficult time for small businesses and those who are self-employed. I know they suffered significant losses because of his greed.
“I am sure that his violent actions will have a lasting impact on all of those who were affected by these crimes and I would like to thank all of the members of the public who came forward to report these incidents to us.
“Carrying a knife is not acceptable and, as we’ve seen in this case, there will be significant consequences if you’re found to be doing so. This violence is the reason that Piper will serve an additional five years on licence.
“If you’re in a similar situation, it’s not too late to turn your life around. Please bring your knives to your local knife bin, and reach out to charities like Fearless who can help you get to a better place.”