Search press releases

Advanced search options
Dial 999 in an emergency
Dial 101 in a non-emergency

Police action sees distraction thieves sentenced and offences halved

  • Valter Stanescu and Nicosur German were sentenced for conspiring to steal mobile phones, wallets and bank cards
  • The men used leaflets to distract their victims
  • The City of London Police’s crackdown on distraction thefts has seen offences reduced from 72 in April to 32 in June

Two men have been sentenced following a City of London Police operation designed to catch distraction thieves. The targeted police work has seen these specific type of offences cut by more than 50 per cent in two months.

Valter Stanescu, 37, from 3 Mallards Road, Barking, and Nicosur German, also 37, of no fixed abode, were sentenced on Friday 19 July 2019 at Inner London Crown Court to 13 months imprisonment each after pleading guilty to one count of conspiring to steal mobile phones, wallets and bank cards.

The men used leaflets to approach victims in pubs, offices and fast food restaurants. They used these leaflets to cover their victim’s personal belongings and distract them from the theft taking place.

During a three hour period on 23 May 2019, the two men stole mobile phones, bank cards and a wallet from different victims. The total of the stolen items was just over £3,000.

During his custody interview, Stanescu admitted that he had stolen four phones on 23 May 2019 and that he intended to sell them to a person in Ilford, however he denied the theft of a wallet. He went on to say he steals as many phones as he can and when he sees something he wants to steal, he just takes it.

Following the arrest of the pair, officers searched their car and found five additional phones hidden inside the fabric of the rear passenger seat.

Crackdown on distraction thefts

This sentencing follows a City of London Police operation to crackdown on distraction thefts which has seen offences reduced from 72 in April to 32 in June.

Earlier this year, the force released CCTV to show how these criminals typically carry out the theft. They initially distract the victim by asking them for directions or begging for money and placing a written note or leaflet on their table, before lifting items such as mobile phones and wallets.

In response to the spike of thefts, the City of London Police deployed specific tactics to target these criminals, including deployment of plain clothes officers and frequent patrols at known hotspots.

Community officers have also been engaging with local businesses and customers within the Square Mile to inform them about distraction thefts.

Detective Sergeant Darren Norman, of the City of London Police’s Crime Squad, said:

“Stanescu and German’s jail sentence shows that we have zero tolerance towards theft in the City and we will do everything in our power to bring those responsible to justice.

“Distraction thefts are decreasing but people still need to remain alert and vigilant and keep their valuables out of plain sight.

“If you do fall victim to this type of crime, or see any suspicious activity when out and about in the City, you should report it to police by calling 101.”

The City of London Police is reminding the public of how they can protect themselves from theft. No matter where you are in the City:

  • Keep an eye on your belongings at all times.
  • Never leave your bags or other valuables unattended in public places.
  • Be discreet with your belongings; displaying expensive items, like mobile phones, could attract unwanted attention.
  • Keep mobile phones out of view, in your pocket or bag, not on top of the table where you are sat.

For more advice on protecting your belongings, please visit our website.

Share release