It started with a routine traffic offence. In Romania! Claudiu Popa was pulled over by Romanian Police on Monday 3 February. Officers were stunned to find a treasure trove of stolen goods in the back of his car including silverware, medals and jewellery.
Popa then fled after being released for further enquiries to take place.
In between times the Romanian Police sent an intelligence report to Avon & Somerset, linking the items found to burglaries in Somerset.
Popa, having fled Romania, came back to the UK and was working in an hotel in Scotland trying to keep his head down. He was recognised and arrested and last Friday (15 May) appeared at Taunton Crown Court where he admitted to conspiracy to commit burglaries.
He was sentenced to 10 months in prison.
The burglaries had taken place all over the Avon & Somerset patch including Tickenham, Nailsea, Dyrham, Chilton Polden, Wedmore and Glastonbury between 20 and 28 January this year.
PC Mark Pollock, from the Operation Remedy team, explained “Popa was one of a professional gang of burglars who carried out a series of offences in our force area. They would smash windows at the homes they were targeting and steal silverware, jewellery, and in some cases war medals.“
Police are still looking for other members of the gang. Two are believed to be in Switzerland where they’ve been arrested for other offences, while a third is believed to be at large in Romania.