Belfast Telegraph

‘Shoplifting gang hawking goods outside PSNI station wanted to set up anti-crime consultancy firm’

£2,500 'stuffed between defendant's buttocks'

By George Jackson

Five men accused of being part of a cross-border gang of thieves told police arresting them that they were considering setting up a consultancy firm to advise retailers on how to detect shoplifters.

The men, described by a police officer as being members of a sophisticated cross-border gang of shoplifters, were remanded in custody when they appeared before the Magistrate's Court in Londonderry yesterday.

The police officer told District Judge Barney McElholm that following their arrests on Wednesday, the defendants mentioned going into the anti-crime advisory business.

The five face a combined total of 78 dishonesty offences.

They're alleged to have committed the crimes at retail premises on both sides of the border between March 14 and August 5.

Two of them were arrested outside Strand Road PSNI station trying to sell stolen goods, among them hair-straighteners, to members of the public.

One of the five is charged separately with possessing criminal property, namely £2,500, which the police witness said was found stuffed between his buttocks.

Three of the defendants, all with local addresses, are Glaswegians Michael Brown (26) from Lower Nassau Street, Brian McCool (39) from Lawrence Hill and Liam Graham Harvey (27) from Abercorn Road.

Their co-defendants are Dubliner Kevin Nolan (41), who has an address at Stradowen Drive in the Strathfoyle area of Derry, and Richard Greene (38) who is originally from Athlone and with an address at Lower Nassau Street.

The police officer said that CCTV footage showed that the modus operandi of the defendants was that four of them would distract shop security staff while the fifth member would deposit stolen items in a tinfoil-lined shopping bag which had a lid attached to it.

The goods stolen included clothes, hair-straighteners and electric shavers.

The officer said: "They were organised together in this sophisticated criminal venture and further inquiries may reveal other crimes," she said.

A solicitor for one of the defendants disputed the officer's description of the defendants as being members of a sophisticated gang.

"Trying to hawk their goods outside Strand Road police station in the middle of the day is not the action of a sophisticated shoplifter," he said.

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