Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

Prison for distraction thieves who stole from employees at stores in Sevenoaks

DISTRACTION thieves who stole mobile phones belonging to staff at businesses in Sevenoaks and other neighbouring towns areas have been sentenced to prison.

Maricel Stanescu and Ciprian Mihai.

Around 30 beauty salons, doctors’ surgeries and estate agents were among premises repeatedly targeted by Maricel Stanescu and Ciprian Mihai, during a 10-day crime spree between 16 and 26 April 2019.

Typically, one of the two thieves would enter a business or shop and distract a member of staff by addressing them in a foreign language.

At the same time, they would produce a leaflet which was used to cover up a phone belonging to an employee’s. The leaflet would then be picked back up, along with the victim’s phone.

A Kent Police investigation linked a Volkswagen Passat to as many as 35 separate incidents and the vehicle was stopped on 26 April, as it was travelling into the Tunbridge Wells area.

Stanescu, aged 30, of Boundary Crescent, Beeston, Nottingham and Mihai, also 30, of Radford Road, Nottingham were inside the car and both were arrested.

One of the thieves who was seen on CCTV in one of the stores.

During an interview they denied any wrongdoing. Stanescu told police he didn’t even know where Kent was, claiming when arrested maps on his phone had misdirected him from London.

But when they appeared at Maidstone Crown Court, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle. On Friday 12 July Stanescu was sentenced to three years imprisonment. Mihai was sentenced to 18 months.

CID Detective Constable Tony Hatcher said: “It is likely Stanescu and Mihai both have links to an organised criminal network responsible for countless offences not just across the South East, but also in other countries.

“Their motive was to steal as many phones as possible in the shortest amount of time, moving rapidly between different counties and towns. They targeted small businesses, often entering private areas without permission and deliberately caused confusion by speaking in a foreign tongue in order to distract and steal.”

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