Niculae Ion, 21, and Niculae Avram, 46, were each sentenced on Wednesday, March 28, to three years and four months in prison at Isleworth Crown Court after admitting six high-value thefts, following an investigation led by Bedfordshire Police’s Airport Policing Unit.
Two offences were committed at London Luton Airport and four at terminals four and five at London Heathrow Airport.
The stolen goods totalled over £40,000 in cash.
The investigation started in October last year, when a businessman travelling through the airport reported that his travel wallet containing over £3,000 in cash had been taken.
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While this investigation was underway, officers received reports that another victim had had her credit card stolen, which had then been used a number of times.
PC Niall Hamshere, leading the investigation, was able to identify two suspects and then circulated images of Ion and Avram nationally, which resulted in them being identified at Heathrow.
Both had left the United Kingdom, returning to Romania, however were subsequently detained at London Luton Airport whilst re-entering the UK on 27 February.
The pair have previous convictions for similar offences in the UK, with Avram also having convictions in Germany and Ion having convictions in five other European countries.
PC Hamshere said: “We are obviously glad that both have been given custodial sentences for their offences: this is the most substantial sentence either man has received in any country and it reiterates our commitment to bringing such offenders to justice.
“These men are highly skilled pickpockets, with none of the victims having any idea where or when they had been targeted. They had deliberately targeted transport hubs where their victims were vulnerable to their skills.
“We always urge vigilance against pickpockets, particularly in busy areas such as airports, and would ask anyone who thinks they are a victim of a similar offence to get in touch with us.”