A TEAM of Romanian burglars who raided isolated homes across Staffordshire has been jailed for a total of more than 10 years and all of them will be deported when they are released.
The gang targeted rural properties likely to yield rich pickings, disabling alarms and CCTV before ransacking people’s homes looking for loot, Stafford Crown Court heard.
A woman living in a secluded cottage in the hamlet of Chebsey, near Stafford, had all her late mother’s jewellery stolen just days after the funeral, said Pat Sullivan, prosecuting.
In another of the gang’s raids, motor racing enthusiast Peter Harvey, from Ellenhall, near Eccleshall, lost his irreplaceable collection of trophies.
Other properties in the area to be targeted included houses in Lower Bromstead, near Gnosall, and Blithbury Road, Rugeley.
At least 14 properties in Staffordshire were raided between February and May this year, but the gang was rounded up on May 21 following two further break-ins, one in Gloucester, the other in Worcester.
Getaway driver Florin Codreanu and prime mover Cristinel Diaconu, were living in Wellesley Road, Oldbury, while Morian Dobre gave an address in Clifton Road, Birmingham.
All three admitted a charge of conspiracy to burgle, while newly-arrived immigrant Marian Boroiban, 34, of no fixed address, admitted burgling the house in Worcester.
Diaconu, aged 31, who was involved in 16 burglaries, was jailed for 45 months; Codrianu, aged 25, got 30 months and Dobre, aged 31, was jailed for 27 months for nine burglaries. Boroiban was jailed for 20 months.
Judge John Maxwell told them: “The houses which you burgled were in the country, tended to be isolated and the sort where there would be valuable items, particularly jewellery.
"A very great deal of distress has been caused. People have lost such items as an engagement ring, one lost her mother’s jewellery shortly after her mother had died.
“I make a recommendation that all of you should be deported. I make it because your presence in the UK causes its citizens great problems.”
Mr Sullivan said the gang’s methods were always the same.
They would drive around searching for an isolated property that looked empty, disable the security systems, smash a rear door or window and make an untidy search.
The total cash value of the stolen goods was impossible to ascertain, but most was of great sentimental value to the victims.
Police arrested the four defendants following the raid in Worcester, a house where the owner was in a care home.
Their car had been spotted at the Gloucester break-in earlier in the day and an alert had gone out.
Lynette McClement, for Boroiban, said he had arrived in the UK only six days before being arrested in Worcester, where he was the look-out.
Michael Aspinall, for Dobre, said his client wanted to go back to Romania and would not oppose the deportation order.