Thursday, March 30, 2023
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Screwed Over: burglars caught out by their own tools

Two hapless burglars were caught out by their own tools, thanks to thorough investigative work involving both forensics and interpreters.

Gheorghe Serban, 33, of New Haw Road, Addlestone, was sentenced to 34 months in prison and ordered to pay a victim surcharge.

His brother-in-law Iulian Toma, 43, of Glebe Close, Crawley in Sussex, was sentenced to 21 months in prison suspended by two years with an electronically monitored curfew requirement between 8pm and 5am.

At around 9.49pm on Friday, 15 January 2021, officers were called to Hampshire Court in Addlestone following reports of two suspicious men who were disturbed trying to gain access to an address.

Officers were quickly on scene and the suspects detained and searched. Two screwdrivers were discovered near their feet which they denied all knowledge of. They claimed they were walking to the shops to buy cigarettes when Serban decided to call upon an old girlfriend who allegedly lived in the area. However, house to house enquiries and CCTV footage disproved their story and showed them attempting to break into two houses on the street.

Forensics were then conducted on the screwdrivers, which showed they had been directly handled by Serban and may have been handled by Toma. Body worn footage from the attending officers was translated from Romanian to English and showed that Serban had said to Toma ‘Did you throw that thing away?’ which was believed to be a reference to the screwdrivers.

Both men were charged with two attempted burglaries each and with going equipped for burglary. They pleaded guilty but then failed to attend Guildford Crown Court, and Serban even left the country. Thanks to officers’ persistence they were tracked down and brought before the court earlier this month. Serban was sentenced on Tuesday, 4 October and Toma on Wednesday, 16 November.

Image shows Gheorghe Serban, 33, of New Haw Road, Addlestone

Investigating officer, PC Daniel Bell from the Northern Burglary Team, said: “This was a protracted investigation compounded by both Serban and Toma failing to appear for court. I would like to thank the victims for their patience while we pursued these criminals and brought them to justice. Burglary is a despicable crime, and nobody should be made to feel unsafe in their own home. I know this has had an impact on the victims in this case who were in with their children at the time of the offence. I hope this sentence acts as a deterrent for any other would-be burglars.”

As winter approaches, we expect a subsequent rise in burglaries, with offenders taking advantage of the darker nights. Please take the time to think about your home security:

  • Have you considered placing lights on timers when you go out?
  • Have you thought about installing a burglar alarm or panic alarm system?
  • Does your shed and side alley have working padlocks?

Many of these solutions are cheaper than you might think to buy and install and can help protect you from becoming a victim of burglary and help us prosecute offenders.

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