Thieves who stole £4k in perfume claim they ‘didn’t know it was a crime’

Two young women were shocked to find themselves being arrested for theft after making off with thousands of pounds worth of perfume – as they didn’t realise stealing was a crime.

The ladies claimed they were unaware of the law – but this proved to be no excuse after they were found to have nicked nearly £4,000 worth of perfume from a shoplifting spree across the Midlands.

A gang of Romanian women from Birmingham swiped products from stores in Telford, Bristol and Worcester – while making off with a huge haul from a branch of John Lewis.

But when caught, the gang claimed the crimes were "spur of the moment" – with one pleading that she did not realise stealing was a crime.

Two of the women – 18-year-old Angelica Marin and 24-year-old Samariteanca Bucurestean – were sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday.

The pair – both mothers of three children each – were handed community orders, BirminghamLive reports.

Prosecutor Alison Scott-Jones said: "The case concerns a group of women travelling around the country visiting busy shopping venues and blatantly stealing large quantities of expensive perfume from large shops and stores. There were a number of common features.

"There was little attempt at subterfuge and concealment.

"When they were apprehended a similar narrative was given by the defendants, that they were shopping with friends, they had no intention of stealing, it was a spur of the moment decision and they had no money on them.

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"Immediately when they were arrested they made admissions and expressed remorse."

Judge Sarah Buckingham, presiding over the trial, expressed suspicion that the women had been influenced by others to commit their crimes.

A break down of their crimes was heard by the court.

It was reported that Marin’s first offence was committed in November last year where she targeted a branch of Debenhams on Worcester High Street where she tried to steal £168 of perfume in her bag along with another woman, 22-year-old Daniella Stoian.

The pair were stopped as they tried to escape through a back exit – with Ms Stoian subsequently fined £80 following sentencing at Worcester Magistrates Court.

Marin, meanwhile, was on bail when she targeted a branch of Boots in Telford the following month – this time accompanied by a woman named Maria Radu.

They stole £1,450 worth of fragrance – and were stopped by security as they tried to escape.

Marin reportedly punched the security guard, while Ms Radu later was handed an eight-month suspended sentence.

In February this year, Marin, Stoian, and Bucurestean along with a 22-year-old woman named Geanina Stan were caught on camera leaving a John Lewis without paying for £4,283 worth of perfume.

The court heard that Bucurestean had tried to justify her involvement in the crime saying she "did not know stealing was a crime".

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Judge Buckingham said during her sentencing: "There is no doubt in my mind that the mischief behind all of this offending has been a plan formulated by someone, or some people, who may or may not include you two, or others unknown to the courts.

"But Someone came up with the idea that a group of women, all known to each other would visit shopping venues across the southwest blatantly stealing large volumes of expensive perfume.

"The hope behind each of these offences was that if successful these high-value perfumes would be extremely easy to sell on for profit either to be enjoyed by you individually or extended family and others."

Judge Buckingham added: "I can't help but come to the conclusion the decisions you made were perhaps led by others' encouragement. It is certainly concerning in the case of you Marin you maybe still being exploited, although it falls far short of any opportunity to advocate a defence of modern slavery. Nonetheless, there are real concerns to suggest to me at the very least the decision to commit these offences in both your cases were not necessarily ones you would have made in ordinary circumstances.

"But that is an assumption made by me. Having said that it does not absolve either of you from your responsibility for committing these offences. You had a choice and you chose to be dishonest."

Marin was handed an 18-month community order involving 20 days of rehabilitation activity and 40 hours of unpaid work for her crimes.

Bucurestean was given a 12-month community order with 20 days of rehabilitation activity and 30 hours of unpaid work.

While both Stoian and Stan will be sentenced at a later date.

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