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Jail threat for shoplifting gang

PUBLISHED: 08:47 19 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:48 03 July 2010

A SHOPLIFTING gang who went to Great Yarmouth to target the stores were warned that they face jail.

As the two Romanian couples pleaded guilty at the town's magistrates' court on Friday to shoplifting, they held their babies in the dock.

A SHOPLIFTING gang who went to Great Yarmouth to target the stores were warned that they face jail.

As the two Romanian couples pleaded guilty at the town's magistrates' court on Friday to shoplifting, they held their babies in the dock.

Leonard Tanase, 22, and his wife Vandana Mihai, 24, both of Hunter Road, Illford, Essex, along with Vestinian Vaduva, 30, and his wife Mioara Mihai, 35, of Loxsford Avenue, London, admitted stealing more than £300 of goods from TK Maxx and Next. The court heard that on December 9 last year, the gang were spotted acting suspiciously at the Gapton Hall Retail Park.

Elizabeth Houghton, prosecuting, said the defendants were seen to leave the retail park, only to return a short time later and go into TK Maxx with their two babies and a 13-year-old child.

Mrs Houghton said: “The women are seen to be wearing long skirts which the store detective describes as 'ballooning out' with the appearance of having something underneath. Aware these types of skirts have pouches sewn in the front of them and concealed pockets, the detective made close observations.

“These offences bear the hallmarks of a professional gang of shoplifters. “The skirts used have been adapted for offending, therefore an element of planning and professionalism is present. The presence of children during the shoplifting is clearly an aggravating feature.”

Police found five pairs of shoes from TK Maxx worth £190.95 and sweat-shirts, trousers and a scarf from Next worth £120.36 in the gang's vehicle.

Rob Pollington, mitigating, told magistrates they were not professional shoplifters. He said: “It really isn't sophisticated or smart. We are looking at brazen actions which show a disregard for the law but also a reflection of the desperation of the persons involved.”

Mr Pollington said the skirts were traditional and had not been altered.

Magistrates adjourned the case until January 23 for sentencing and warned the gang faced prison.

The Romanians were told by magistrates not to bring their children to the next hearing.


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