Seven jailed for distraction thefts from pensioners

(L-R starting with top row) Lazarescu, Fabiola Preda, Andrea Tanca, Carabulea, Gologan, Fonica Preda

(L-R starting with top row) Lazarescu, Fabiola Preda, Andrea Tanca, Carabulea, Gologan, Fonica Preda and Andranache Tanca (pictures: Kent Police) - Credit: Archant

A gang who targeted elderly shoppers in a series of distraction thefts were jailed for a total of more than 16 years on Friday.

The five men and two women, who live in Barking, Dagenham and Chadwell Heath but who are all originally from Romania, were sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court after defrauding their victims of more than £3,000.

Ilie Lazarescu, 33, of no fixed abode, was jailed for 24 months, as was Andrea Tanca, 25, of Lymington Road.

Andranache Tanca, 34, and Danut Carabulea, 48, both of the same address as Tanca, were sentenced to 27 and 25 months respectively.

Fabiola Preda, 29, of Primrose Avenue, was jailed for 32 months, while Fonica Preda, 40, of Blessing Way and also known as Fanica Simoniescu, was sentenced to 37 months.

The final member of the gang, Alin Gologan, 39 and of Becontree Avenue, received a sentence of 27 months.

They had all admitted conspiracy to steal and conspiracy to commit fraud, and were also served with a forfeiture order.

Most Read

The group stole from 12 victims across Kent between January and March this year, typically watching as they typed in their pin at a supermarket checkout or cash machine before distracting them in the car park to steal the bank card.

Detectives managed to identify two vehicles they believed were involved in the offences and stopped the cars in Ilford on March 27, where they found bank cards concealed in a headlight compartment in one of them.

Det Con Helen King, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “‘The common factor in all these offences was that the offenders targeted elderly or vulnerable people.

“They operated across Kent, sometimes swapping clothing to avoid detection, but we collected a huge amount of CCTV and electronic data that put them firmly in the location when the offences were taking place.

“When we inevitably caught up with them and our evidence was put to them they were left with little choice but to plead guilty.”