Gang boss jailed for £1m of thefts


A man has been sentenced to five years in prison after being found in possession of 600 stolen mobile phones. He was identified as head of a gang responsible for £1 million of thefts.

The mobiles were found in Safain Azzouz’s flat in Finsbury Park, London, which were valued at £120,000. The majority were found to have been reported lost or stolen at recent music events. Some 67 cameras and 19 laptops were also found at the address, as well as £55,690 cash in a carrier bag.

Azzouz was charged at Blackfriars Crown Court on April 15. Judge David Martino said he was satisfied Azzouz had committed offences in excess of £1 million.

National Mobile Phone Crime Unit (NMPCU) detective chief inspector Martin Ford said: “The sentencing of this individual is highly significant in terms of a crime trend that directly impacts on thousands of Londoners and beyond. Azzouz was a leader of a criminal network and the sum in excess of £1 million displays that this was clearly an organised and systematic handling of stolen goods from burglaries and robberies.”

Following another NMPCU raid, six people have been arrested in connection to a large-scale theft of mobiles at music concerts. The criminals were arrested at the Hammersmith Apollo on November 24 last year in a joint investigation between the NMPCU and Hammersmith police.

All six pleaded guilty and were sentenced at Kingston Crown Court on May 10. Mihai Ion Crucianu  was convicted of five offences of theft of mobile phones and one count of theft of a wallet and received a 46-week sentence. Eduard Alin Cilea also was convicted of five offences and was given 40 weeks imprisonment.

Christian Achim had four offences of theft and received 36 weeks imprisonment. Maria Georgiana Ungureanu, had three offences and 24 weeks imprisonment. Constantine Darius was convicted of two offences, receiving 16 weeks imprisonment. Constantin Alexandru Daraba was found guilty of one offence and received a 12-week sentence.

Ford said: “I welcome the decision to jail these individuals, which demonstrates how seriously these offences are being taken by the courts. We will continue to work with concert venues and local police forces to share and gather intelligence and to warn concert goers so that they do not become victims.”