TWO Romanian thieves who targeted an elderly couple and stole their life savings in a busy shopping centre have been jailed.
Andrei Dumittru-Cristian and his partner Oana-Raluca Nica followed their victims after they had just withdrawn thousands in cash from a counter at Barclays Bank in Cwmbran.
They distracted the couple, who are in their 70s, when they were in Home Bargains in Gwent Square before stealing £5,000 from the woman’s handbag.
The police caught the thieves the next day as they tried to flee the country by boarding a ferry at Dover.
Prosecutor Christopher Evans told Cardiff Crown Court how Dumittru-Cristian was also being sentenced for a similar crime he committed on a 91-year-old woman in Darlington.
That offence took place six years ago when he stalked Olive Smith, who has since died, after she withdrew £2,000 from the Halifax.
He and another man had pursued and distracted her in a Wilko store and stolen the money from her handbag.
Mr Evans said the couple preyed on in Cwmbran had just gone into the bank to withdraw £10,000 and had placed them in two envelopes.
They had taken out the money to be divided between their two sons to help them as they were moving home.
The defendants had tried to steal from them after they followed the complainants into Poundland and Heron Foods before they struck in Home Bargains.
In a victim impact statement, the woman said: “The only relief is that it could have been worse and they didn’t take all the money.”
Her husband said: “I still can’t believe this has happened. It has made me feel completely foolish.
“I was a trusting person. I am now suspicious of everybody.”
Dumittru-Cristian, 36, and Nica, 35, both of Roxeth Green Avenue, Harrow, Greater London, pleaded guilty to the Cwmbran theft.
That took place on February 18 this year.
Dumittru-Cristian also admitted the Darlington theft which occurred on September 21, 2015.
Mr Evans told the court how Dumittru-Cristian had several previous convictions for theft across Europe.
He has criminal records for stealing in Germany, Austria, Norway, the Netherlands and Spain.
Nica is a woman of previous good character.
Louis Maskell, representing Dumittru-Cristian, said his client had committed the offences because he was desperate for money.
His lawyer said the defendant had to pay child maintenance for a daughter has in Romania.
Failure to pay child support is an imprisonable offence in that country the court was told.
Mr Maskell added: “He had borrowed money from some unsavoury characters and had to repay them.”
Claire Pickthall, for Nica, said: “These are very mean offences and they caused distress.
“She regrets the hurt and upset she has caused.”
Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke told the defendants: “You were stopped in Dover trying to leave the country.”
Turning to Dumittru-Cristian, she said: “It is quite clear you travel around Europe and steal as you go.”
Dumittru-Cristian was jailed for 27 months and Nica for six months.
Dumittru-Cristian was also banned from driving for three years, one month and two weeks.
The £665 in cash seized from him in Dover will be handed over to the victims of the Cwmbran theft.
Judge Lloyd-Clarke also made a deprivation order to take away the Toyota Yaris Dumittru-Cristian was driving when he was arrested in Dover.