Jailed: Romanian gang who flew in and out of UK to carry out high-value burglaries
Written by on 5 October 2020
Members of a specialist foreign crime gang who flew in and out of the UK to commit a string of high-value burglaries have been jailed.
The Romanian thieves stole rare books, computers and mobile phones in raids on warehouses and freight depots, bypassing alarms by scaling roofs and walls with ropes and ladders.
Over more than two years, they escaped with GBP4.5m of stolen goods until a joint police operation, involving Scotland Yard, detectives from Romania police and the Italian Carabinieri.
After each raid the burglars flew back to Romania, while their loot was carried away by other gang members using different transport.
Twelve members of the gang were jailed for between three and five years each after a trial at Kingston Crown Court.
Detective Inspector Andy Durham, of the Metropolitan Police, said: “These sentences bring a successful conclusion to a complicated three-year investigation, which identified and convicted a previously unknown Romanian organised crime gang.
“For over two years, this gang commuted from Romania into the UK, targeting warehouses across the country, causing huge financial losses and even forcing some to close as a result. They gave no consideration to the victims they targeted.”
The books stolen in a 2017 raid included rare, culturally-significant works by scientist Sir Isaac Newton and the 18th-century Spanish painter Francisco Goya. They were being stored after being shipped from Italy and Germany and were to be delivered to a book fair in the US.
Four of the gang flew from Iasi in Romania to Luton and drove to the warehouse, where they cut holes in the perimeter fence and the warehouse roof to get in and avoid door sensors.
They spent five hours in the warehouse before loading 200 books into holdalls and taking them to an unknown location.
The burglars were arrested after a six-month police surveillance operation and a wave of arrests at 45 locations.
The stolen books were only recovered last month when Romanian police raided a house and found them buried there.
In another burglary, three gang members cut through walls to avoid triggering infrared motion sensors at a warehouse in Peterborough, stealing GBP200,000 worth of smartphones and other high-value electronic gadgets.
Police said the gang was linked to a number of prominent Romanian families who form part of the Clamparu crime group, based in the Iasi region in Eastern Romania.
The group has a history of complex and large-scale thefts.