A TRIO of shoplifters who used foil-lined bags to steal more than £3,000 worth of electrical items and other goods from East Lancashire supermarkets have each been jailed for 20 months.

The three Romanian-born offenders, who struck at Asda in Accrington and Sainsbury’s in Colne, were only caught while driving home to Berkshire hours later, Burnley Crown Court was told.

Police discovered an array of electrical goods in a Ford Focus being driven by 27-year-old Ionel Gusetiou on the M6 toll road near Norton Cane services, the court heard.

Most of the merchandise still had supermarket security tags attached and the foil-lined bags were discovered along with rucksacks, which had apparently been used to ferry them out of the stores.

A Tom-Tom satellite navigation system had been used to direct the men to their targets in Lancashire.

Gusetiou, Luliu Rosstas, 41 and Stenfanita Craciun, 25, all from the Slough area, each admitted two offences of theft and going equipped for theft.


Jailing them, Judge Andrew Woolman said their offending had been “sophisticated” and had involved an element of planning.

“You were not just stealing packets of meat,” said the judge, acknowledging that the foil-lined bags had been used to bypass the supermarkets’ electronic tagging systems.

Judge Woolman also issued an order depriving the defendants of any future interest in the seized Ford Focus and sat-nav.

The court heard that Craciun and Rosstas each had police cautions, dating back to October and November respectively, for shoplifting offences in the Cambridgeshire and Somerset and Avon areas.

Gusetiou was convicted of shoplifting in Cardiff last June and was also guilty of attempted shoplifting in Wiltshire in November.

Mohammed Najib, for Craciun, said his client had been in the country for eight months and was working in the pharmaceutical industry before losing his employment, which left him struggling financially.

The court heard Rosstas had been in the country for three months and had been supporting his daughter back in Romania.

He had also lost his job and began offending against that backdrop. Gusetiou was not qualified to drive the car they were eventually stopped in.