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JAILED: 'Brazen' sledgehammer gang torched car and smashed their way into Bluewater store in £3million jewellery raids

PUBLISHED: 15:27 30 March 2017 | UPDATED: 15:44 30 March 2017

Pictures show glass smashed inside the Breitling store in Bluewater. Picture Credit: David Wright

Pictures show glass smashed inside the Breitling store in Bluewater. Picture Credit: David Wright

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The burglary happened in June last year

Cosmin MuraruCosmin Muraru

A ‘militaristic’ gang of burglars who set fire to a car before smashing their way into Bluewater armed with sledgehammers have been jailed.

Cosmin Muraru, 25, stole £264,900 from a Bluewater jewellery store in June last year with his fellow gang members.

The Naden Road, Birmingam resident’s gang went on to steal from another 10 shops across the country.

On June 20, the offenders drove to the Greenhithe shopping centre overnight in a silver Ford Mondeo, setting the car alight in Thames Walk car park to distract security teams.

Breitling in Bluewater, was cordoned off after the overnight burglary on June 20. Pic Credit: David WrightBreitling in Bluewater, was cordoned off after the overnight burglary on June 20. Pic Credit: David Wright

Once inside, six men were seen using sledgehammers to force open the Breitling store’s shop front.

They then climbed inside, destroying cabinets and filling bags with high-price watches.

They fled the area on foot, leaving a £60,000 trail of damage in their wake.

No offenders were located, however a black hooded top found on a footpath off Hedgerow Road provided a DNA match for Muraru.

He was arrested and charged by Staffordshire Police officers in September last year.

Officers discovered the incident was part of an ongoing series of crimes spanning 11 different towns and cities between November 2015 and September 2016. Locations included Milton Keynes, Oxford, Stoke-on-Trent, Basingstoke, Portsmouth, Bicester, Derby, Stratford-upon-Avon, Peterborough and Blackburn.

Muraru pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle and was sentenced at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court on Thursday 30 March 2017.

In total, he was sentenced to six years and seven months for conspiracy to commit burglaries and 18 months for conspiracy to commit arson.

Det const Mark Froome, an investigating officer, said: “The offences these men committed were brazen and well organised in an almost militaristic fashion.’

“This meant that a complex and diligent investigation, involving nine police forces and the Romanian authorities, was needed to secure these convictions.

“It is pleasing that our partnership work has brought about such significant sentences and I hope that this serves as a message to organised criminals that we have the resources and structure in place to target them and bring them to justice.”

Aside from Muraru, six more gang members were sentenced at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court on March 17.

Five received the following sentences for conspiring to commit burglaries:

• Bogdan Costel Neagu, 24 and of no fixed address, was sentenced to eight years two months.

• Ioan Bucuresteanu, 24 and of no fixed address, was sentenced to eight years.

• Vasile Daniel Cardos, 26 and of Halesowen Street, Rowley Regis, West Midlands, was sentenced to eight years two months.

• Silvu Ioan Acatrinei, 20 and of no fixed address, was sentenced to eight years two months.

• Andrei Florin Tifui, 28 and of no fixed address, was sentenced to eight years two months.

Ioachim Karp, 19 and of no fixed address, was sentenced to six years six months for aggravated burglary and conspiracy.

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