A gang member who helped steal more than £34,000 worth of alcohol in Norfolk and surrounding areas has been jailed. 

Alexandru Cercel, 39, and his accomplices targeted shops in Norwich, Great Yarmouth, Diss and Beccles between October 2021 and June 2023. 

More than £34,500 worth of champagne and spirits was stolen from supermarkets including Tesco, Morrisons, Asda and Sainsbury's in Norfolk and other counties. 

Alcohol worth up to £3,000 was stolen in each raid with the gang sometimes returning to the same store up to five times on the same day to empty the shelves.

Cercel, formerly of Homestead Road in Dagenham, was arrested at Dover docks trying to leave the country as a wanted man on July 1.

He admitted to 26 further crimes in a bid to "clear his slate" including nine offences that were committed in Norfolk, accounting for stolen alcohol worth around £16,000.

Cercel appeared at Canterbury Crown Court on November 17 for sentencing.

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He admitted to eight counts of stealing alcohol from Tesco stores in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Kent, and Hertforshire between October 4, 2021 and June 13, 2023.

He also asked for the 26 other thefts to be taken into consideration.

The scale of the operation was described as "industrial" during sentencing and he was jailed for two years.

The judge said the thefts were likely motivated to fund other criminal enterprises and that the method used indicated "highly organised and planned offending."

He was credited for admitting to the further 26 offences and showing genuine remorse for his crimes. 

Duncan Etchells, supervisor of the Norfolk Operation Converter TIC Unit, said: "We will always do all we can to bring serious organised criminals such as Cercel to justice.

"By investigating him as we did, a large number of high-value retail thefts were put before the court and we welcome this sentence as retail crime on this scale impacts all the customers of the affected stores."