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Wiltshire cash machine thief is jailed
3:00pm Wednesday 2nd January 2013 in News
THE mastermind behind a gang of Romanian cash machine thieves has been jailed for three years.
Vasile Braeban recruited the rest of the gang of four to come to Wiltshire and target holes in the wall at Co-op and Barclays banks.
The 22-year-old, along with Pepelea Mihai, 24, Mitrut Tei, 34, and Costica Dabica, 30, stole from ATMs in Swindon, Royal Wootton Bassett and Marlborough.
As well as fitting false fascias and camera devices to the machines to get customers’ cards and PINs, they also used ‘cash trap’ devices to pinch the notes as they came out.
Recorder Robert Linford, sitting at Swindon Crown Court, said the trial of two members of the gang showed that the offences had victims other than the big banks.
“Evidence given during the trial demonstrates how this sort of activity really affects people’s lives,” he said. “One man had a job interview to get to and needed bus fare, so he put his card into the machine to take out £10 to get his fare and didn’t get his money. He didn’t make the interview and as a consequence would probably not have got the job.”
The gang interfered with the machines on Sundays and at night, when the bank was closed.
Their activity was first spotted just after 10.30am on April 29 when a device was removed from Barclays in Old Town.
An hour and a half later the machine at the nearby Co-op had something fitted to it, before the Barclays’ machine was again attacked at 9.40pm on the Monday night. Early the following morning cash traps, made using mouse traps, were fitted to the Barclays machines at Marlborough and Royal Wootton Bassett.
The gang then travelled back to London, returning shortly after midnight on May 3 where they got a card from the Co-op machine at Clive Parade. Within seven minutes they withdrew £300 from Tesco in Ocotal Way, and moments later tried to buy £6 worth of goods in the store, but the card was rejected. They then went straight to Co-op in Old Town to fit another cash trap before returning to Tesco, where they were arrested at 2.15am.
In the vehicle police found the card stolen from Clive Parade and false cash machines fascias hidden behind the stereo.
A sat nav was also found which had logged their journeys from London to Swindon, Marlborough and Royal Wootton Bassett.
Tei and Dabica pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to steal, insisting they had just come along for the ride with the other two, who admitted the charge. But a jury found them guilty and also convicted Tei of similar offences in Kent in 2009.
The judge jailed Mihai and Tei for 22 months and Dabica for 14 months for what he called ‘persistent, determined, pre-planned stealing’. He said he had considered recommending them for deportation but as they were from an EU country they could just get on a plane and come back.