FERRY BOLD |
‘Professional’ shoplifters who stole printer ink cartridges fled to Ireland
Judge Geraint Walters told the defendants they had been “operating as a profession team” and it was clear they had been “making a living simply by stealing”
Yesterday at 09:02
Two men who targeted Welsh Tesco stores during a “professional” shoplifting spree were only arrested four months later when they stepped off a ferry from Ireland.
Robert Pascu and Alexandru Zamfir fled after they made off with thousands of pounds worth of printer ink cartridges, nicotine patches, toothbrushes and beauty products in a matter of hours before disappearing last September.
Swansea Crown Court heard the pair were not arrested until January of this year when they tried to enter the UK at Holyhead port having just arrived on a ferry from Ireland.
The robberies began just after 4pm on September 23 last year when the defendants entered the Cardigan branch of Tesco and removed security tags from packs of printer ink cartridges.
“They then put them in their trolleys, and placed items of clothing over the top,” Georgia Donohue, prosecuting, told the court.
They added a tray of Nicorette products to one of the trolleys along other small items, then left the shop with the total value of goods stolen estimated to be around £800.
They then arrived at around 5.30pm at the Tesco in Haverfordwest where they repeated the tag-and-trolley routine.
On this occasion they stole goods to the value of £1,500, before moving on the Milford Haven branch of the supermarket.
The court heard they again removed tags from printer cartridges and put them in their trolleys.
However, this time they spotted acting suspiciously as they pulled clothing over the contents of their trolleys whenever members of staff were nearby.
They quickly escaped without the trolleys and leaving the £1,000-worth of stock in them.
Just 45 minutes later, Pascu and Zamfir were at Tesco in Pembroke Dock at 6.15pm where they again removed security tags from £1,000-worth of printer cartridges.
They then put them into a trolley along with toiletry items before leaving without paying.
Robert Valentine Pascu (20) and Alexandru Zamfir (24) both of Moore Street, Cobridge, Stoke-on-Trent, had previously pleaded guilty three counts of theft and one count of attempted theft when they appeared in the dock for sentencing.
Pascu has previous convictions for shoplifting, going equipped for theft with a foil-lined carrier bag, and handling stolen goods.
Zamfir has previous convictions for seven counts of shoplifting at Ayr Sheriff Court in Scotland – for which he received a term of imprisonment – and for shoplifting and assaulting a police officer on Merseyside. These latter offences were committed three days after the west Wales spree.
The court heard that the printer ink cartridges had been stolen as they had a high re-sale value, and it is believed that the defendants were considering whether they could sell them to tattoo parlours.
Pascu’s legal representative, Ian Ibrahim, said his client was a Romanian national who had come to the UK looking for work.
He said the defendant had carried out “back-breaking” seasonal agricultural work for between £1,300 and £1,500 a month.
After spending some £400 a month on rent, he would send what he could back home to help support his mother and sisters.
But he said Pascu had accepted what he did on the day in question, and was remorseful for his actions.
Matt Murphy, for Zamfir, said the defendant was a qualified forklift truck driver who had come to the UK hoping to secure better paid employment than was available in Romania or in other European countries.
He had travelled to Stoke, where he has family, before arriving in Kilmarnock to see his uncle where he committed the Scottish offences.
He then returned to Stoke and on to west Wales and Merseyside before going home to Romania.
He had then gone to Ireland where Pascu has relatives before both defendants had attempted to re-enter the UK at Holyhead port.
Judge Geraint Walters told the defendants they had been “operating as a profession team” and it was clear they had been “making a living simply by stealing”.
The men were given one-third discounts for their guilty pleas and sentenced to eight months in prison for the Welsh offences.
Zamfir was also sentenced to four months for the Merseyside offences, to run consecutively with the Welsh offences, making an overall sentence in his case of 12 months in prison.
The defendants will serve up to half their sentences in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community. The judge told the defendants that any subsequent deportations would be a matter for the Home Office.