Search for accomplices as shoplifter jailed for supermarket raids

A GANG of Romanian shoplifters who travelled the country targeting Morrisons supermarkets were caught outside a store in Leeds.

Members the gang used specially adapted foil-lined bags to carry stolen goods to avoid setting off alarms. When they were stopped by police in Morley they had a list of postcodes for every Morrisons store in West Yorkshire.

Leeds Crown Court heard the group took items including razor blades, face creams, nicotine patches and coffee. They were arrested on Wesley Street on January 30, after police stopped their car and found the boot crammed with bags of stolen items.

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Investigations revealed they had visited other stores in Leeds. At one store, in Hunslet, large areas of shelves were left empty after items were taken. CCTV footage also showed they had been to the Guiseley and Horsforth stores. Two men were arrested and bailed but went on the run and are still at large.

Dumitru Paun, 22, who was kept in custody after his arrest, pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods and going equipped for theft and was yesterday jailed for 12 months. Paun, from Leicester, has previous convictions for targeting Morrisons supermarkets in York, Teesside, London, Staffordshire and Northumbria.

Louise Pryke, prosecuting, said: “He has clearly been travelling around the country committing these offences.”

Shila Whitehead, mitigating, said Paun had pleaded guilty to the offences at the earliest opportunity. The barrister said Paun came to the UK to find work but lost his job at a car wash and turned to crime. Police inquiries are continuing to trace the two fugitive suspects.