Maidstone Crown Court

A shop burglar has been jailed after stealing thousands of pounds of electrical goods from John Lewis stores in Tunbridge Wells and Ashford.

Laptops, speakers and smart watches were among hundreds of high value items stolen by Ionel Stoian during targeted raids in 2020.

Stoian, aged 51, was reported to be part of a criminal gang which broke into branches in Kingstanding Way, Tunbridge Wells and in Fougeres Way, Ashford.

Entry was forced to the Tunbridge Wells store at 1.50am on 15 September 2020, when around 100 items were stolen to the value of almost £50,000. The Ashford site was then targeted during the early hours of 24 October, after a hole was cut into a window. This time, electrical goods worth at least £25,000 were stolen.

An investigation by the Chief Constable’s Crime Squad led to the discovery that during the burglaries a black Ford Focus had been seen close to both stores. The vehicle was identified and found to be insured to Stoian.

Further enquires revealed it had been used to travel to both the Kent stores, from his home in Thruxton Road, Havant, Hampshire. Forensic evidence was also uncovered after a sample of Stoian’s blood was recovered from a laptop lead at the Ashford crime scene.

Stoian was arrested on 1 February 2021, along with a man aged 31, from Southsea, Hampshire.

At Maidstone Crown Court, Stoian pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary and on Monday 2 August he was sentenced to two years and three months’ imprisonment. The other man had previously admitted a charge of handling stolen goods and received a fine of £250.

Leading the investigation was Detective Constable Billie-Louise Mills, who said: ‘Stoian was part of an organised crime group which we believe were also responsible for a series of other commercial burglaries in Kent and outside the county. They came equipped with tools to enter each premises and carried bags to remove as many goods as they could carry. The crimes involved a significant degree of planning and organisation and there is no doubt Stoian would have continued to offend had he not been caught.’

By Ed

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