TWO PEOPLE have been given prison sentences for distraction thefts across Worcestershire, including Droitwich, and Herefordshire.
On Monday (November 7) at Telford Magistrates Court, Bogdan Vranceanu, 31, was sentenced to 24 weeks behind bars after pleading guilty to five counts of theft.
Atena Calin, 20, was handed 12 weeks in prison after also admitting to five counts of theft.
Vranceanu is already serving a 24-week prison sentence after pleading guilty to four counts of theft at Telford Magistrates’ Court on September 28. Calin is already serving a prison 12-week term after admitting three counts of theft at Telford Magistrates’ Court on September 28, 2016.
Between September 13 and 26 ten people in Droitwich, Malvern, Evesham, Shrewsbury, Leominster and Hereford had purses stolen.
In most cases Calin would distract victims by making conversation and Vranceanu would cover the handbag with an item from the shops, such as a magazine, pizza or loaf of bread, while stealing the purse.
On September 26, the pair were stopped by police on the M54, heading towards Birmingham, and were arrested and taken into police custody.
Det Sgt Julie Shephard said: “Vranceanu and Calin are skilled fraudsters – well versed in deception, they managed to distract their victims and steal purses containing money and bank cards, loyalty and membership cards, driving licences and some personal photographs.
“They carefully planned these thefts, targeting different areas in an attempt not to be detected.
“We will be working with the Immigration Service around their deportation to Romania once their sentences have been served.”
The police officer added it should be safe for people to go out and about and shopping on a daily basis but there were people trying to take advantage of them.
“It only takes seconds for them to strike and they are gone before you even realise anything is missing.”
She warned shoppers to be vigilant and take a few simple steps to prevent themselves from becoming victims.
They include ensuring purses and wallets are not on the top of a bag or easily accessible and added people could get purse bells free from their local police station or Safer Neighbourhood Team.
She added people should keep their personal belongings close to them and be aware of who was around them.