A BURGLAR who raided cash and carry stores across the country has been jailed at Swindon Crown Court.

Mihai Apitilisei, 44, of no fixed address, admitted five burglaries on a Stafford computer shop, a garden centre in Gillingham, Kent, and cash and carry stores in Salisbury, Sheffield and Basingstoke.

He was part of a gang that stole goods worth around £24,000 and caused more than £22,000-worth of damage. Apitilisei will serve three years in prison.

Det Con Mark Welch, from Wiltshire Police's Community Tasking Team, said: "This was a complex investigation, where we took the lead for all the Forces who'd had offences in their areas.

"Apitilisei was clearly part of a very organised group of offenders who would target commercial premises in the hours of darkness and would go equipped with tools for the job.

"Our enquiries are now ongoing to find the offenders who worked alongside him and make sure they are also brought to justice."

Apitilisei was only caught after Wiltshire officers were called to reports of a break-in at Bookers cash and carry in Harnham, Salisbury, in September 2018. Thieves had moved CCTV cameras and used a disc cutter to break through the outside wall.

Once inside they had tried to cut a hole into the cigarette store but were disturbed by an alarm so fled the scene.

Officers arrived and saw a group of men in a Ford Galaxy car driving off, but the occupants ran off, leaving the vehicle behind.

When they searched the car they found forensic evidence, as well as disc cutters, crowbars and other tools. Mobile phone evidence showed the car had been in the London area and Basingstoke, where the gang had raided another Bookers cash and carry.

Apitilisei was arrested in Milton Keynes in March in connection with an attempted break-in, with his DNA linking him to crimes across the country.