A PICKPOCKET has been thrown in jail after being caught red-handed by plain clothes police.
Cornel Croitoru (53), of Windermere Road, Southall, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court last Saturday and was sentenced to 30 weeks in prison after pleading guilty to theft and attempted theft.
On Friday, April 12 around 3.45pm, plain clothes officers from British Transport Police noticed Croitoru acting suspiciously at Victoria Underground and followed him on to a northbound train.
During the journey Croitoru was looking around at other passengers’ property and was seen to unzip a man’s rucksack. He noticed one of the officers looking at him so zipped the bag back up and left the train at Oxford Circus.
Both Croitoru and the victim boarded the same Bakerloo line train, where officers arrested him and told the victim what had happened.
The officers had also linked Croitoru’s appearance to a person wanted for the theft of a mobile phone on February 23 at Warren Street LU station.
The victim had been using his mobile phone to play games onboard a Victoria line train and put it in his pocket.
When the train arrived at Warren Street, Croitoru brushed past him and took the phone.
Speaking after the sentencing, PC Steve Bryan, the investigating officer, said: "The victim had no idea that Croitoru was trying to steal from his rucksack.
"Thankfully our officers from the pickpocket squad were able to prevent this from happening and Croitoru was arrested, prosecuted and jailed within 24 hours."
PC Bryan added: "BTP has recently launched Operation Magnum, an initiative designed to crack down on the theft of passenger’s property.
"Our pickpocket squad officers patrol the Tube network every day and are highly trained in spotting the kind of behaviour that tells them someone is intent on theft.
"We arrest these types of offenders every day but there are also lots of things that passengers can do to make sure they protect themselves from pickpockets.
"Remember to zip up your bags and hold them in front of you with the flaps against your body, keep your jewellery, mobile phones and MP3 players hidden and stay alert to what’s going on around you."