Members of an organised retail crime team who stole over £180k from supermarkets across the UK have been jailed for committing thefts of high valued items including, printer ink, perfume, razor blades, alcohol, cosmetics and thousands of baby care items.
The National Business Crime Solution (NBCS) worked with Asda (an NBCS member) throughout 2020 to build a series linked investigation and collected details and evidence in relation to the activity of the team. After a great stop from security colleagues at the Asda Baron Quays store in June 2020, arrests were made, and the case accelerated.
Success was enabled thanks to NBCS expertise identifying similar offences across multiple other Police Force areas which would otherwise not have been linked to this series. NBCS achieve this through MO, offender matching and ANPR work. NBCS linked this offending to 22 Police Forces with Cheshire taking primacy. In total over 100 individual crimes were linked with a value in excess of £180K.
The arrests involved Police teams from Cheshire Police and West Midlands Police where the offenders we known to reside.
Nicolea Ilea, 36, Alin Mahai, 27, Florin Costea, 51, Gabriel Mocanu, 36, Stefan Florin, 31 and Marius Meiosu, 25 all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and were sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Tuesday 13 April 2021.
The typical method used by this team was to enter the store with a shopping trolley, fill the trolley with targeted items and proceed straight to the exit. Their accomplice would be waiting at the exit for the trolley pusher to go through the EAS system and if the alarm went off they would wait behind and claim it was them who set the alarm off with an item they had purchased. In that time the pusher has made their escape with the goods. However, on this occasion in Asda Baron Quays, this was not enough to get past the Gatekeeper Purchek technology.
Purchek is a unique trolley-based pushout prevention system, designed to stop offenders in their tracks, literally. As a thief attempts to leave a store, Purchek instantly activates and locks the trolley wheels in place, keeping the stock in store.
As this team attempted to steal over £1000 worth of goods from Asda Baron Quays, the trolley locked at the exit and the offender stood there confused. The security team was alerted by the Purchek alarm and within 11 seconds were on the scene. The offender was apprehended.