The Jewel Raiders: Tonight

The Jewel Raiders: Tonight, ITV at 7.30pm Credit: CCTV

This is the Romanian criminal mastermind behind one of Britain’s biggest jewellery heist gangs.

An ITV Tonight investigation reveals that Adrian ‘The Dad’ Botez, inspired by the notorious jewel thieves The Pink Panthers, ran a gang of ‘ninja-like’ jewel raiders, who robbed £3.1m worth of goods from 11 high-end stores across England in a year-long spree.

The broadcast travelled to Romania to find out more about the thieves, who trained at the so-called Crime Academy, an illegal European-wide ‘school’ with more than 100 members.

Tonight has obtained exclusive access to the entire catalogue of CCTV footage, which detectives used to form part of their investigation across nine borders and which took the combined efforts of eight police forces to crack.

Each break-in, most of which happened inside shopping centres, took the criminal gang less than 90 seconds.

Staffordshire Police took charge of the nationwide investigation.

Credit: Staffordshire Police

Detective Chief Inspector Ricardo Fields led the operation ‘Commission’ for Staffordshire Police.

The West Midlands Organised Crime unit has access to intelligence on foreign criminal gangs across the globe.

The group was linked to the crime academy in Romania as several members came from the same region of the country and employed similar strategies.

The leader of the academy in Romania and this ‘British franchise’ was Adrian Botez.

ITV Tonight went to Piatra Neamt, the city in eastern Romania where Botez came from. From there, new academy recruits were blindfolded and usually hidden in the boots of cars and taken to the capital, Bucharest.

Credit: ITV / Tonight

Inside safe houses, they were given a Rule Book and contract, swearing on their lives not to break the illegal academy’s code of honour.

ITV Tonight obtained a copy of the secret handbook - its advice contained a warning: "Top secret jobs like these come with occupational hazards like shootings or jail."

An extract from the Crime Academy handbook Credit: DIICOT

"You have to prepare yourselves mentally and physically - learn how to attack and defend yourselves with weapons and knives."

The TV current affairs programme tracked down Botez, and found he was serving a jail sentence of more than 10 years for attempted murder.

Tonight asked Adrian ‘The Dad’ Botez for an interview in a prison near Bucharest, but he declined.

Aasmah Mir said Adrian Botez "was driven by the success of the international jewel thieves, the Pink Panthers, so he decided to assemble his own gang of professional thieves."

Special serious crime prosecutors in Romania, DIICOT, have told us there are 100 more of his footsoldiers or graduates still out there.

Meticulous planning was a feature of the raids Credit: Staffordshire Police

In March this year seven Romanian men, aged between 19 and 26 were sentenced to more than 50 years in jail, for their part in the UK heists.

They have now been deported back to Romania. Very little of the academy’s haul has ever been recovered and is thought to be buried across Europe.

The Jewel Raiders: Tonight is on ITV at 7.30pm

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