A gang of female Romanian shoplifters have walked free after stealing more than £6,000 of perfume in a nationwide four-month crime spree.
The Birmingham-based quartet targeted busy shopping centres across the country, discreetly swiping luxury products such as Chanel, before being foiled.
All eventually pleaded guilty charges of theft and were handed community orders after a judge concluded it was clear ‘there are others in control’.
Two of the women, Geanina Stan, 22, and Daniella Stoian, 20, initially tried to claim their £4,283 haul in John Lewis on February 14 were Valentine’s Day gifts for friends.
Mothers-of-three Angelica Marin, 18, and Samirateanca Bucurestean, 24, also admitted their roles in the gang.
Though the gang claimed the crimes were ‘spur of the moment’, sentencing Judge Sarah Buckingham, who had presided over the trial, expressed suspicion that the women were working under the orders of organised crime bosses.
Prosecutor Alison Scott Jones told Birmingham Crown Court: ‘This case concerns a group of Birmingham-based Romanian women who travelled around the country.
The young Birmingham-based quartet targeted busy shopping centres across the country discreetly swiping luxury products and stuffing them into bags. Pictured left to right: Samariteanca Bucurestean , Angelica Marin, Geanina Stan
All eventually pleaded guilty charges of theft and were handed community orders after a judge concluded it was clear ‘there are others in control’ (pictured at Birmingham Crown Court)
Geanina Stan, 22, and Daniella Stoian, 20, initially tried to claim their £4,283 haul in John Lewis in Bristol (pictured) on February 14 were Valentine’s Day gifts for friends
The court has heard that Marin’s first offence was committed on November 28 of last year where she targeted a branch of Debenhams on Worcester High Street (pictured)
‘They visited busy shopping venues where they blatantly stole large quantities of expensive perfume from large stores.
‘They made immediate admissions and showed remorse for their actions. There is an overtone of organisation because their travel was financed.’
The court has heard that Marin’s first offence was committed on November 28 of last year where she targeted a branch of Debenhams on Worcester High Street.
She tried to steal £168 of perfume in her bag along with Stoian, but the pair were stopped as they tried to escape through a back exit. Stoian was subsequently fined £80 following sentencing at Worcester Magistrates Court.
Four-month spree of ‘Birmingham gang’
November 28, 2019: Angelica Marin and Daniella Stoian tried to steal £168 of perfume from Debenhams on Worcester High Street.
December 21, 2019: Angelica Marin breaks bail and steals £1,450 worth of fragrance from a Boots in Telford with Maria Radu. Radu was handed an eight-month suspended sentence.
January 12, 2020: Geanina Stan and Daniella Stoian tried to steal two Chanel fragrances worth £200 from a Boots in Northampton.
February 14, 2020: Geanina Stan, Daniella Stoian,Angelica Marin and Samirateanca Bucurestean stole £4,283 worth of perfume from a John Lewis branch in Bristol.
Marin, meanwhile, was on bail when she targeted a branch of Boots in Telford on December 21 – this time accompanied by Maria Radu. They stole £1,450 worth of fragrance and were stopped by security as they tried to escape.
Marin reportedly punched the security guard, while Radu later was handed an eight-month suspended sentence.
On January 12, Stan and Stoian went to a Boots in Northampton ‘where their behaviour drew immediate attention because they both carrying large empty bags,’ the court heard.
Miss Scott-Jones said: ‘They were observed removing items from the perfume cabinet and placing them in their bags. Both women then left the store making no attempt to pay for the goods.’
When confronted the two women were found to have two Chanel fragrances worth £200.
Just over a month later all four defendants were captured on CCTV stealing multiple bottles of perfume from John Lewis in Bristol worth £4,283.
When interviewed, Stan said: ‘I saw the perfume. I liked it. I took the items as gifts for my friends for Valentine’s Day.’ Stoian repeated the claim.
Bucurestean had tried to justify her involvement in the crime saying she ‘did not know stealing was a crime’.
Sentencing, Judge Sarah Buckingham said: ‘This was a pre-planned operation and an example of organised offending.
‘You travelled the length and breadth of the country carrying out these offences.
‘I am prepared to accept there is little evidence that either of you are part of the planning committee deciding which shops should be targeted and what should be taken. It is perfectly clear there are others in control.’
She previously told a court: ‘There is no doubt in my mind that the mischief behind all of this offending has been a plan formulated by someone, or some people, who may or may not include you two, or others unknown to the courts.
‘But someone came up with the idea that a group of women, all known to each other would visit shopping venues across the southwest blatantly stealing large volumes of expensive perfume.
‘The hope behind each of these offences was that if successful these high-value perfumes would be extremely easy to sell on for profit either to be enjoyed by you individually or extended family and others.’
Stan was given a 12-month community order and ordered to do 50 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty to two charges of theft
Lynette McClement, mitigating for Stoian, said she had one child and was 26 weeks pregnant and had spent five weeks on remand.
Haroon Khattak, mitigating for Stan, said she was not employed because of her child caring responsibilities and she was deeply remorseful.
Mr Khattak said: ‘She speaks very little English and her financial means are limited,’ her solicitor said.
Stan, of Sparkbrook, was given a 12-month community order and ordered to do 50 hours of unpaid work after she pleaded guilty to two charges of theft.
Stoian, of Small Heath, had previously pleaded guilty to theft and was also handed a 12-month community order.
At a previous hearing earlier this month, Marin and Bucurestean also admitted their roles in the gang.
Marin, of Bordesley Green, pleaded guilty to three charges of theft from a shop, assault by beating, and failing to answer to bail.
Last year during a separate shoplift she became abusive and punched a security guard in the face.
For this she was handed an eight-month suspended sentence earlier this year for theft offences as well as obstructing a police officer.
And this month she was handed an 18-month community order involving 20 days of rehabilitation activity and 40 hours of unpaid work.
Bucurestean, of Sparkbrook, pleaded guilty to one charge of theft from a shop.
She was given a 12-month community order with 20 days of rehabilitation activity and 30 hours of unpaid work.