Card gang foiled by quick-thinking witness
March 01, 2012
Four people have admitted theft and fraud offences after an elderly woman’s debit card was snatched at Tesco in Warfield.
Three men and a woman were arrested following the incident at the supermarket in County Lane on Thursday, February 16.
The 85-year-old woman was loading her shopping into her car when a man asked her for directions. While she was distracted, a second man approached her from behind and took her debit card from her shopping bag.
The incident was witnessed by a man who followed the group and recorded the number plate of the vehicle they got into. He then returned to the victim and took her into the store to notify police and cancel her cards.
But within minutes of the card being stolen, £250 was withdrawn from the account and within 20 minutes £779 was spent in a local store.
Police spotted the vehicle with the number plate they had been given shortly after 2pm the same day in Winnersh. It was stopped and the four occupants were arrested. CCTV was then used to link them to the offence at Tesco and the use of the card.
All four appeared at Reading Magistrates Court on Saturday, February 18, where they all admitted the offences.
Sandu Gheorgehe, 25, of Burgess Road in London, admitted the offences in Bracknell and similar offences in Brighton.
He was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison for the Bracknell offences and the same for the crimes in Brighton. He was also sentenced to seven days for breach of a conditional discharge to run concurrently.
Sofian Croiture, 50, of no fixed address, admitted handling stolen goods and was given a 12-month conditional discharge.
Corina Perianu, 21, also of Burgess Road in London, admitted fraud and handling stolen goods and was remanded in custody until Monday, March 12, pending a probation report.
A 23-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted theft and fraud in Bracknell.
PC John Cruse, from Bracknell CID, said: “This was clearly an organised group of offenders who targeted an elderly victim.
“The victim was undoubtedly watched whilst paying for items at Tesco in order to witness her pin number.
“This group worked with incredible speed and efficiency to remove over £1,000 from the victim’s account within 20 minutes of stealing the card.
“It was only down to a very observant member of the public that such a thorough investigation could take place.
“Without the car index police would have very little chance of tracing the offenders, and this upstanding member of the public should be commended for his quick thinking actions.”