A JEWELLERS in Stratford fell victim to a Romanian crime gang, who stole some £3million of items from jewellery shops across the country.
Six men have been jailed for a combined 47 years for conspiring to commit burglaries between November 2015 and September 2016.
One of those which was targeted by the thieves was Christopher Poel jewellers in Meer Street. The gang broke into the shop on September 7 using sledgehammers and crowbars and fled with a haul of expensive watches.
It is believed they cycled to all of the raids after setting up camp nearby.
Andrei Florin Tifui and Ioachim Karp were both charged with the offence, and along with Ioan Bucuresteanu, Silvu Acatrinei, Vasile Cardos, Bogdan Costel Neagu, have been found guilty of conspirancy to commit burglary.
Jewellery, including watches, rings, necklaces and other items were stolen in 11 raids described as ‘meticulously planned’ by Det Ch Insp Ricky Fields, who carried out the investigation.
One of their largest raids was on a jewellers in Stoke-on-Trent, where £400,000 worth of watches were stolen.
Sledgehammers were used to gain entry to the shop and a fire was also set to hamper the efforts of emergency services.
The group had set fire to cars, car tyres and property as a distraction and also tied industrial cables across roads to block routes to emergency services in many of their burglaries.
DCI Fields believes the group could be linked to the infamous crime academy in Romania as several of the members came from the same region of the country and employed similar strategies.
The Romanian Crime Academy recruits men and provides training in numerous techniques, such as avoiding being followed and understanding forensic evidence.
DCI Fields added: “They employed a number of strategies including cycling to the scenes of their crimes and cordoning off sections of road to reduce traffic and observers.
“They also pitched tents, typically two to three miles from the scene of the crime and buried their waste in a bid to avoid DNA being gathered.
“This was a highly organised Romanian crime group who, thanks to great partnership working between all forces, we were able to bring to justice. Police officers across the country have worked tirelessly and diligently to achieve this result.
“I hope the sentences handed out send out a strong message – we will not tolerate such crime in our communities and we will take positive action against those involved.”