A gang member has been jailed for eight years for his part in a series of 11 jewellery store raids across England, including one in Peterborough, where more than £3.1m was stolen.
Cosmin Moraru, aged 25, of Spring Grove, Naden Road, Birmingham, was sentenced to six years seven months for conspiracy to commit burglaries and 18 months for conspiracy to commit arson at jewellers spanning nine counties.
The sentencing today, Thursday March 30, at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court followed an earlier (March 17) sentencing where six other members of the gang received a total of 47 years in jail for conspiracy to burgle.
The offences, which included a raid on Fraser Hart in Peterborough, in which five men with sledgehammers struck the window of the store, stealing £192,000 worth of diamond rings, were committed between November 2015 and September 2016.
Detective Chief Inspector Ricky Fields, of Staffordshire Police’s Force Safeguarding and Investigation (North), said the group had set fire to cars and car tyres, as well as property as a distraction and also tied industrial cables across roads to block routes to emergency services in many of their burglaries.
The investigating team from Staffordshire Police linked up with officers from several other forces after it was established that raids had also taken place at the following locations:
• 21 November 2015 – Fraser Hart, Milton Keynes
• 31 December 2015 – Goldsmiths, Oxford
• 9 February 2016 – Chris Shan Jewellers, Lancashire
• 10 March 2016 – Beaverbrooks, Stoke-on-Trent
• 7 April 2016 – Beaverbrooks, Basingstoke, Hampshire
• 20 June 2016 – Breitling store, Bluewater, Kent
• 26 July 2016 – Ernest Jones, Portsmouth
• 5 August 2016 – Montblanc, Bicester Village, Oxfordshire
• 23 August 2016 – Ernest Jones, Derby
• 25 August 2016 – Fraser Hart, Peterborough
• 7 September 2016 – Poel Jewellers, Stratford-upon-Avon
DCI Fields added: “This was a complex investigation which spanned other police force areas including Thames Valley, Hampshire, Kent, Cambridgeshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire and Warwickshire and was supported by the National Crime Agency and West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit and Romanian authorities.
“This was a highly organised Romanian crime group who, thanks to great partnership working between all forces, we were able to bring to justice. Police officers across the country have worked tirelessly and diligently to achieve this result today in Court.
“I hope the sentences handed out to these men send out a strong message - Staffordshire Police, along with other forces, will not tolerate such crime in our communities and we will take positive action against those involved.”
DCI Fields said the group could be linked to the crime academy in Romania as several of the members came from the same region of the country and employed similar strategies.
The Romanian Crime Academy recruits men and provides a strict code for its members as well as training in numerous techniques, such as avoiding being followed as well as understanding forensic evidence.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
On March 17 six other members of the gang received the following sentences:
* 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.