Jailed: Ilford thief linked to 53 incidents across 15 counties
PUBLISHED: 11:00 13 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:00 13 September 2019
A travelling criminal from Ilford has been jailed for three years after a Hertfordshire-led investigation linked him to more than 50 offences in 15 different counties.
Stefan Balaceanu, 24, of Gordon Road, appeared before St Albans Crown Court on Thursday, August 29.
He pleaded guilty to 53 offences committed in 15 different counties, 16 of which were committed in Hertfordshire.
The court previously heard that between July 2018 and May 2019, Balaceanu travelled the country stealing mobile phones, purses and wallets from victims after distracting them.
The defendant would approach his victims while holding a piece of paper with writing on and speaking a foreign language. He would point at the paper and ask them to help him.
While his victims were distracted, he would steal their belongings while using the paper to conceal his actions. It was not until the victims went to use their mobile phone, wallet or purse that they realised they were missing.
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On May 22 this year, Balaceanu was arrested by officers from Hampshire Constabulary after they stopped a vehicle which flashed up on their ANPR system in Basingstoke.
The defendant was identified as one of the occupants and it was determined that he was wanted for a number of offences, so after his arrest he was transferred to custody Hertfordshire and remanded.
It transpired that Balaceanu had committed a string of theft offences in Hertfordshire, Hampshire, Derbyshire, South Yorkshire, Kent, Leicestershire, Wiltshire, London, Essex, West Yorkshire, Sussex, Kent, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire and Cheshire during a nine month period.
Hertfordshire Constabulary's specialist investigation team launched an inquiry, supported by fellow officers and staff on the local policing command, to piece together the path of Balaceanu's criminality.
DC James Kier said: "The scale of Balaceanu's offending was very significant.
"It was clear he had no qualms about targeting innocent members of the public after preying on their good natures.
"This was a protracted investigation and involved colleagues from elsewhere in the constabulary as well as 15 different police forces.
"I would like to publicly thank them for their help in gathering evidence because their support ultimately enabled us to achieve a conviction."