Convenience store burglary gang jailed

Eight people have been jailed for between two and four years each for their role in burglaries at convenience stores across Wales and England.

Five women and three men, all Romanian, netted more than £170,000 worth of cash and valuables in five months, and received a total of 24 years in prison.

One would distract the shopkeeper while another burgled the living quarters.

The judge at Merthyr Crown Court said they had been involved in "a conspiracy of sophistication and determination".

At least 14 shops were targetted in Wales during February and March, mainly in the south Wales valleys but also in Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, and Newport.

Sat nav equipment

The total haul included jewellery worth approximately £128,000 and about £41,000 in cash, along with laptops, mobile phones and sat nav equipment.

South Wales Police put a team of officers together after six virtually identical incidents were reported in the valleys and Merthyr Tydfil.

Police said CCTV analysis by the Cynon Valley team identified two vehicles whose registrations they uploaded to the police national computer.

Within days, the gang was arrested in the West Midlands.

Stores were targetted in Cardiff, Carmarthen, Llandeilo, Ammanford, Neath, Merthyr Tydfil, Treforest, Pontypridd, Abercynon, Mountain Ash and Newport.

Those sentenced for conspiracy to commit burglary were: Loreena Belcu (four years); Catalina Chiciu (three years, six months), Elena Iordache (three years, four months), Cerasela Mihalache (three years, four months), Constantin Lazarica (three years), Viorel Velcu (two years, eight months), Ciprian Stavarache (two years, four months), and Loredana Baceanu (two years).