Members of a Romanian crime gang have been jailed for a series of burglaries on jewellers, in which some £3.1m worth of jewellery was stolen.
The six men have been jailed for a total of 47 years for conspiring to commit burglaries at jewellers across nine different counties in the UK.
The men were sentenced at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court for the offences – which included the £400,000 raid on a Beaverbrooks in Stoke-on-Trent’s Intu Potteries shopping centre last year – which were committed between November 2015 and September 2016.
Jewellery, including watches, rings, necklaces and other items were stolen from branches of Beaverbrooks, Fraser Hart, Goldsmiths and independent jewellers in a series of 11 raids described as “meticulously planned” by the detective running the investigation.
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Five men received the following sentences for conspiring to commit burglaries:
- Bogdan Costel Neagu, aged 24, of no fixed address, sentenced to eight years two months
- Ioan Bucuresteanu, aged 24, of no fixed address, sentenced to eight years
- Vasile Daniel Cardos, aged 26, of Halesowen Street, Rowley Regis, West Midlands, sentenced to eight years two months
- Silvu Ioan Acatrinei, aged 20, no fixed address, sentenced to eight years two months
- Andrei Florin Tifui, aged 28, of no fixed address, sentenced to eight years two months
- Ioachim Karp, aged 19, of no fixed address, sentenced to six years six months for aggravated burglary and conspiracy
Detective chief inspector Ricky Fields, of Staffordshire Police, said the planning that had gone into the crimes was “extremely detailed and carefully worked out”.
“We’re dealing with a group of individuals who are extremely organised and forensically aware. They went to great lengths and employed an interesting MO in an attempt to avoid detection,” he said.
Fields said the the group could be linked to the ‘Romanian Crime Academy’, which recruits men and provides a strict code for its members as well as training in numerous criminal techniques, as several of the members came from the same region of the country and employed similar strategies.
“They employed a number of strategies including cycling to the scenes of their crimes and cordoning off sections of road to reduce traffic and observers. They also pitched tents, typically two to three miles from the scene of the crime and buried their waste in a bid to avoid DNA being gathered,” he added.
Another man is due to be sentenced on 28 March.
SaferGems, a joint initiative from the National Association of Jewellers (NAJ) and TH March Insurance Brokers, played a key role in identifying the men and bringing the various police forces together to build the case against them.
Michael Rawlinson, CEO of the NAJ, said: “Once again our investment in SaferGems has proved its worth. The intelligence gathered from members analysed and disseminated by SaferGems has played a vital role in this result.
“My thanks go to the police for their work in capturing and arresting these serial criminals and having them bought to book, and to Lee Henderson and Simon Gardner of SaferGems for there dedication and eagle eyes that are so good at spotting these repeat offenders”