MALE Romanian shoplifters have been caught wearing women’s swimming costumes back-to-front to hide stolen items under their clothes.

Police said they had come across several incidents this year of thieves wearing swimwear under baggy clothes.

In the latest incident, two men were jailed after claiming they had been pressured to commit the unusual crime to repay their air fare to Britain and living costs.

Police said the costumes allowed criminals to conceal small, high value items close to their bodies.

Officers said Lancashire was one of the first forces in the country to gain convictions against shoplifters ‘going equipped to steal’ because they were using swimsuits.

On Wednesday, Daniel Dediu, 22, and Constantin Gerea, 18, both of Tyldesley Street, Manchester, both pleaded guilty to going equipped for theft with a ladies swim suit worn back to front.

Dediu was jailed for six weeks and Gerea, who had previous convictions for similar offences in Preston, Manchester and Cheshire, was jailed for eight weeks.

Simon Farnsworth, defending Dediu, said both men had come to the UK on the promise of work and with the financial assistance of so called friends in Manchester.

“There was no work and the ‘friends’ then demanded repayment of the air fare and money for accommodation. He was pressured into committing the type of offence you have heard about.

“It is an unusual form of going equipped. It seems to be a method used by Romanian men from this address in Manchester and clearly someone is directing them in this technique.”

Town Centre Sgt Dave Clarke said Lancashire had led the way with this type of conviction.

He said: “We are one of the first police forces to convict for going equipped to steal using swimsuits.

“Quite often they are stealing small expensive items like toiletries, tools and perfumes.

“It’s certainly unusual and we have only had a couple of incidents, but it is something that we are aware of and we are monitoring.

“It’s not prevalent, but it has been used a few times in Blackburn and we want to prevent further thefts of this kind.”

In previous incidents shoplifters have told police they had worn the swimsuits for a variety of reasons including having a bad back and that they enjoyed wearing women’s clothing.

Blackburn town centre PC Andy Duxbury said: “Blackburn is one of the towns these travelling criminals will be visiting. In this most recent incident, they were stealing cutters from B&Q.

“The swimsuit use is a growing trend, especially amongst Romanian people from the Manchester area. It was a shock when we first came across it.

“The solicitors and interpreters from Manchester knew about the method used, so it must be more common in the Manchester area.”