A member of a pickpocket gang has been jailed after targeting tourists in Westminster and following a mother and daughter.
The group were spotted identifying and targeting potential victims on September 4 by plain clothes British Transport Police (BTP) officers on patrol at Westminster underground station.
The gang positioned themselves at the top of the stairs and followed a mother and daughter from Westminster station onto Westminster Bridge, Blackfriars Crown Court heard on Monday (October 3).
Officers saw the trio move unnecessarily closely behind the victim and one potential thief used a scarf to hide her hand, reach out, open the victim’s rucksack and put her hand inside.
Romeo Haret, 25, of Valence Circus, Dagenham, was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment for conspiracy to steal.
Loredana Pantica, 21, of Longmead Road, Burton Upon Trent and Florintina Pantica, 18, of Longmead Road, Burton Upon Trent, were also found guilty of conspiracy to steal and were each sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to undertake 180 hours of unpaid work.
PC Steven Bryan, the investigating officer, said: "The sentence handed to all three offenders shows that the courts take this kind of offence very seriously."
British Transport Police have issued advice to keep people safe from pickpockets:
- Keep purses secure and carry wallets in an inside pocket.
- Zip up hand and shoulder bags.
- Carry bags in front of you with flaps against your body.
- Keep straps short and bags tucked under your arm.
- Don't display jewellery.
- Don't show your money — keep it safely in your pocket.
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