Belfast Telegraph

Gang of shoplifters spared prison over pre-Christmas raid

By Nevin Farrell

A member of a female Romanian shoplifting gang which hit shops in Coleraine was wearing a pair of baggy tracksuit bottoms tied tightly at the knees underneath a long skirt as a place to conceal goods, a court has heard.

Three women, with addresses in Coalisland, Co Tyrone, were given suspended sentences at Coleraine Magistrates Court where District Judge Peter King said it was clear they were a "team" and it was a planned and co-ordinated visit to Coleraine with the "sole purpose of robbing and shoplifting from the merchants of this town".

He said he took a dim view to such targeting of businesses, especially as two of the three women had a previous conviction for shoplifting in Omagh.

The gang had carried out a pre-Christmas shoplifting raid in Coleraine. Shoes, coats and jeans worth hundreds of pounds were taken from four stores on December 12 last year. Last month sentencing had been deferred in their case after a judge asked to see if they had any criminal records in their homeland.

At court yesterday, Alina Cirpacill (26), Anca Cirpaciu (19) and Teresa Nicula (35) were present to be sentenced for theft and Nicula an extra charge of handling stolen goods. The address for all three was given as Comber Terrace, Coalisland, but previously had been given as Barrack Street in the Co Tyrone town.

A prosecutor said a number of people were spotted acting suspiciously and when police swooped on two vehicles they found a number of stolen items.

The prosecutor said Nicula was wearing a pair of baggy tracksuit bottoms which were tied tightly at the knees underneath a long skirt.

The trio had previously pleaded guilty to the offences.

Defence barrister Francis Rafferty for Cirpacill said his client is a married mother-of-one on benefits with a previous conviction for theft.

Barrister Alan Stewart for Cirpaciu said his client recently gave birth to her first child but normally has some agency work.

Michael Smyth, for Nicula said his client, a mother-of-five, works as an agency worker with Moy Park, and had a previous offence.

Judge King said the public purse did not need to pay for the women to go into custody but as a reminder to them that the gang's behaviour was unacceptable he imposed suspended sentences.

They were all given three-month sentences but Cirpaciu's was suspended for a year and Cirpacill and Nicula, because of their records, were given 18-month suspended periods.

Belfast Telegraph


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