A gang of four who preyed on pensioners at supermarkets in Congleton to steal cash from their bank accounts are behind bars.
Following a Congleton Police investigation into distraction thefts at two supermarkets in the town four people were arrested and later charged. All four were convicted at South and East Cheshire Magistrates Court on 3 December 2015.
Ionica Aman, 40, was given 26 weeks in prison for theft, Vali Bolozani, 33, was sentenced to 38 weeks for two counts of theft, Oana Margineanu, 36 , was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison for theft and Vasile Nita, 44, was sentenced to 40 weeks in prison for two counts of theft and two counts of fraud by false representation. All are formerly from John Street in Oldbury.
The charges relate to a distraction theft at Aldi in Congleton on 19 November and Morrison’s in Congleton on 27 October.
DC Alison Greenwood said: “The group targeted people they thought were vulnerable, following them in the supermarket and noting their pin numbers as they paid at the till. They then distracted them as they put their shopping away in order to steal their cards and take cash from their accounts.
“Although they had their money reimbursed by their banks, the effect this crime had on the victims should not be underestimated. The offenders callously targeted them and when they realised money had gone from their accounts, the victims understandably felt vulnerable and distressed, knowing they had been singled out due to their age and then followed as they went about their daily routine.
“The victims who are 84 and 72 have been informed of the result and I hope this will help them to come to terms with their ordeal."
Chief Inspector Rob Dickinson said: “We worked with several other forces to identify these criminals and we are aware of the increase of shoppers in and around retail premises at this time of year and will be stepping up patrols, both covertly and overtly to tackle this type of criminality.
“Anyone who thinks they can get away with distraction thefts in Cheshire should be aware we are actively seeking you out so that we can put you before the courts and get justice for victims.”
Anyone who sees suspicious activity should contact Cheshire Police on 101.