They thought they had it all figured out. A gang of five men who travelled across the country to raid supermarkets of their finest alcohol have been jailed for their crimes.

Valeriu Cobzarencu, Andrei Stefan, Vincentiu Gheorghe, Ionut-Razvan Gheorghe and Alin Chica had a sophisticated scheme to target large supermarket chains such as Tesco, Morrisons, Asda and Sainsbury’s. They would snatch thousands of pounds worth of alcohol, mostly champagne, in each heist.

They hit stores in Kent, London, Essex and Norfolk, including Aylesford, Gravesend, Maidstone, Broadstairs and Dover, as well as Colchester and King’s Lynn.

They each had a specific role and used earpieces and mobile phones to communicate. They also had getaway vehicles ready to transport the stolen goods.

But their bubbly dreams soon popped when they were caught by Kent Police.

Chica Alin and Ionut-Razvan Gheorghe were arrested on 24 February 2022 after they were reported to have stolen alcohol from Sainsbury’s in Pepper Hill, Gravesend.

An investigation was launched by Kent Police, which included gathering CCTV and mobile phone data. This revealed the extent of their offending and linked them to the rest of the group.

They were all later arrested and charged with conspiracy to steal alcohol.

The case concluded at Maidstone Crown Court on 14 July where Stefan, 35, from Greater London was sentenced to two years in jail. Cobzarencu, 30, of the same address, was sentenced to one year and eight months in jail.

The other men were sentenced at a previous hearing on 7 July at the same court.

• Vincentiu Gheorghe, 34, from London, was sentenced to two years and one month in jail

• Ionut-razvan Gheorghe, 35, from Walthamstow, London, was sentenced to two years and three months in jail

• Alin Chica, 23, from Walthamstow, London, was sentenced to one year and six months in jail.

Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Chris Ellingham said: ‘This was a complex case which spanned several counties and I’m pleased these men have been sentenced for their offending.

‘They were brazen in their actions, stealing vast quantities in broad daylight and worked together to move and sell this alcohol on.

‘They committed numerous incidents of theft across the country and believed they would get away with their offending.

‘While the supermarkets have insurance to recover their losses, theft is not acceptable and Kent Police takes organised economic crime seriously.’

By Ed

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