Two burglars are behind bars after mobile phone photos they took of stolen goods led detectives to their door.

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Elson Gjoka (left) and Rivaldo Toma (right)

Kent Crime Squad began its enquiries after residents in CedarviewCanterbury, returned home to find two men in their house on 6 October 2023. The men fled the property, but one of the victims managed to film them getting into a red Peugeot nearby.

The Peugeot was found to be using cloned plates, making it difficult to track. However, an investigating officer found a similar one for sale online with an obviously fake seller’s name of ‘Leo Messi’. That car was seen by police travelling on the M20 near Maidstone three days after the break-in. It was stopped and the driver, Rivaldo Toma, was arrested.

On his phone, detectives found photos of him and another man examining jewellery and watches, some of which were laid out on the floor next to an air pistol.

Further enquiries led to police suspecting the second man to be Elson Gjoka, whose home had previously been visited by officers for an unrelated matter.

Detectives investigating the burglaries viewed the body-worn camera footage filmed in his flat and matched furniture, flooring and curtains to those seen in the background of the stolen goods photos on Toma’s phone.

A warrant was carried out at the Maidstone flat on 1 November and officers found watches, jewellery, tools used in break-ins, cash, a receipt from a pawnbroker and a registration document for the Peugeot.

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Furniture, flooring and curtains in bodyworn footage of Gjoka’s flat matched those in the photos of stolen goods.

Charged and jailed

The evidence not only linked the two men to the offence in Canterbury, but also nine other similar burglaries in SittingbourneChathamAshfordTonbridge and Berkshire, all of which took place in September and October 2023.

The pair were charged with multiple counts of burglary, which they later admitted at court and, on 29 April 2024, Gjoka, 31, of Maidstone, was jailed for three years and two months and Toma, 24, of no fixed address, was jailed for two and a half years.

Detective Sergeant Simon Clarke, of Kent Crime Squad, said:

‘My team meticulously goes through any potential evidence we receive to help us track down burglars like Gjoka and Toma. We know that the more offences we can connect them to, the longer they’ll get in prison and the more victims will receive justice.

‘I am pleased the hard work that went into this investigation has led to the arrest, conviction and jailing of two men who were relentlessly targeting properties and disrupting people’s lives.’

By Ed

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