‘Artful dodger’ Criminal dubbed ‘The Cashpoint Kid’ after Europe-wide crime spree jailed for ATM theft in Co Meath
Levers Zinca (26) hit the headlines in the UK back in 2011 when he was described as a modern-day Artful Dodger.
November 12 2021 07:04 AM
A prolific thief known as the “Cashpoint Kid” who committed crimes across Europe has been jailed for four-and-half-years after stealing thousands from victims at ATM machines in Ireland.
Levers Zinca (26) started carrying out ATM distraction thefts from the age of 11 and has been involved in a litany of incidents in Ireland, the UK and across Europe in a travelling crime spree.
Zinca, from Shancastle Drive, Clondalkin, Dublin, pleaded guilty to four thefts totalling €2,400 from customers at Bank of Ireland ATMs in Dunboyne, Ashbourne and Trim on dates in 2015, 2016 and January 26 this year.
He would distract his victims by pretending to beg as they entered their PIN into the ATM before he typed €600 into the keypad and made off with their cash.
Trim Circuit Court heard one 75-year-old victim said in her victim impact statement that she felt she had been targeted because of her age and the crime led to weeks of sleepless nights.
She added that she no longer uses ATMs on the street as a result.
Another victim who was targeted on Christmas Eve in 2015 said they were unable to their rent as a result of the theft and had to ask their landlord for a rent deferral.
ZInca was dubbed the Cashpoint Kid in the UK after becoming involved in ATM thefts there from the age of 11.
He was arrested in Ireland in 2016 in relation to three of the ATM thefts in Meath but was granted bail and left the country before committing similar crimes in Germany, Belgium and Denmark before being arrested following a theft in Trim in January.
He is also serving a sentence for offences committed in Dublin and Wicklow.
His defence barrister James O’Brien told Trim Circuit Court that Zinca’s family had compensation for his victims.
Judge Martina Baxter said the thefts were premeditated and sentenced him to six years with 18 months suspended.
The sentence is to run concurrently with the sentences he is already serving.
Zinca, who is originally from Romania, hit the headlines in the UK back in 2011 when he was described as a modern-day Artful Dodger who operated along with other child criminals groomed into a life of crime by adults.
At the time he was given an Anti-Social Behaviour which banned him from certain areas of Manchester where he committed his crimes.
At the 2011 hearing it was revealed he had a string of convictions related to the ATM distraction thefts dating back to 2007 when he was just 11.
Between 2007 and 2011 he had been handed down detention orders and training orders totalling 44 months but continuously returned to crime.
Nick Vitti, prosecuting, told Manchester magistrates court the ASBO was “a proportionate response to what has happened in order to protect the public”.
He added: “The modus operandi of these offences are that this defendant approached people at cash points in concert with other people. Those victims were distracted and money was taken from them. They were robbed, basically.”
At the time of receiving the ABSO, Zinca’s partner in crime in many of the thefts was Spartacus Mihai.
Zinca faced five years behind bars if he breached his ASBO in the UK so moved to Ireland where he continued committing identical crimes.
No address was given for Mihai at the ASBO hearing but a man with the same name and same age from England to Northern Ireland around the same time as Zinca moved to Ireland.
That Spartacus Mihai was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 for trafficking and controlling prostitutes in Belfast and Banbridge. His brother Decebal was also convicted in relation to the trafficking ring.
Belfast Crown Court heard the brothers were part of an extensive” UK-wide criminal operation.
Police said they found vulnerable women who they described as “absolutely terrified” at two addresses when they targeted the gang.
During sentencing in Belfast, the court heard Decebal Mihai lodged “six figure” sums of money through his own account and through international transfers back to Romania.
The case was the first conviction and sentencing for a human trafficking for sexual exploitation offence in Northern Ireland under new legislation.
Speaking after the brothers were convicted PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Bells said victims of human trafficking experience the “most horrific of ordeals”.
“Their captors subject them to a degrading life which violates their human rights and denies them their rights to life, freedom and safety.
“This was a particularly distressing case. The victims were all reluctant to speak or say they had been trafficked but displayed many of the tell-tale signs such as visible unexplained bruises on their bodies, not knowing their address and not being able to speak much English.”