Essex/Suffolk: Two men jailed for part in burglaries across four counties

Alexandru Andrei (left) and Constantin Zaharia

Alexandru Andrei (left) and Constantin Zaharia - Credit: Archant

Two members of an organised crime gang have been jailed for their part in a series of burglaries across four counties, including Essex and Suffolk.

Constantin Zaharia and Alexandru Andrei were members of a gang suspected of breaking into one home in Bury St Edmunds, 29 in the areas around Stansted and Saffron Waldon, ten in Hertfordshire, and three in Kent.

The gang took property valued at £175,000 and caused £30,000 damage as they smashed their way into homes.

Eleven of the Essex burglaries were on Christmas Day and Boxing Day 2013.

Five were at Stansted Mountfitchet, five were in the Clavering area and one happened at Rickling Green.

A spokesman for Suffolk police said Zaharia was linked to a burglary in Bennett Avenue, Bury St Edmunds, on December 10 2013.

Zaharia and Andrei, both Romanian nationals, were arrested at Dover on December 29 when their BMW, packed with stolen items, was intercepted by Kent police officers while they waited to catch a cross-Channel ferry. Investigations quickly established that the stolen items found in the car were from burglaries in four counties.

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CID officers based at Braintree then held a series of open days at which recovered items could be returned to their rightful owners. Victims of local burglaries were invited to the open days and more than 100 items were claimed.

At Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday September 19 Zaharia, 21, admitted carrying out six of the burglaries in the Saffron Walden area between December 7 and 12. He was jailed for three years and ordered to be deported at the end of the sentence. The judge also ordered the confiscation of several thousand pounds in cash found in Zaharia’s possession when he was arrested.

Andrei pleaded guilty to handling more than 500 stolen items found in his car at Dover. He was jailed for 28 months and ordered to be deported at the end of the sentence. His car and about £1,500 he was carrying were also confiscated.

The judge also read out a number of victim impact statements submitted by victims of the burglaries. One victim described how the theft of her jewellery and jewellery belonging to her mother and grandmother had been “like three generations of one family being wiped out”. Another victim described his “sense of invasion” after thieves had broken into his home.

DC Nick Campbell of Braintree CID said that the two men had been brought to justice following excellent teamwork among Essex officers and with officers from other forces.

He added: “This has been a wide-ranging investigation in the UK and internationally.

“We know that these two men were members of an organised crime group and enquiries are continuing to bring other members of this gang before the courts.”

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