Thieves who stole more than £70,000 of alcohol from supermarkets across the country jailed

Valeriu Cobzarencu, Andrei Stefan, Vincentiu Gheorghe, Ionut-Razvan Gheorghe and Alin Chica. Credit: Kent Police

Five men who worked together to steal more than £70,000 worth of alcohol from supermarkets across several counties, including Kent, have been jailed.

Between 21 November 2021 and 1 September 2022, Valeriu Cobzarencu, Andrei Stefan, Vincentiu Gheorghe, Ionut-Razvan Gheorghe and Alin Chica worked together to target businesses across Kent, London, Essex and Norfolk.

They targeted large supermarket chains including Tesco, Morrisons, Asda and Sainsbury’s where they would steal thousands of pounds of alcohol, often champagne, during each visit.

They targeted stores in towns including but not limited to Aylesford, Gravesend, Maidstone, Broadstairs and Dover, as well as Colchester, Essex and King’s Lynn, Norfolk.

Maidstone Crown Court Credit: ITV News Meridian

Between them they stole thousands of pounds of alcohol during each visit, often between £2,000 and £5,000. On 5 February 2022 they stole nearly £6,000 worth of alcohol from Sainsbury’s in South Woodham Ferrers in Essex.

The men had distinct roles and worked together to ensure vehicles were nearby to swiftly remove the stolen goods. They also used earpieces and mobile phones to communicate.

Following various enquiries, Chica Alin and Ionut-Razvan Gheorghe were arrested on 24 February 2022 after they were reported to have stolen alcohol from Sainsbury’s in Pepper Hill, Gravesend. 

As investigation was started by Kent Police which included gathering CCTV and mobile phone data. This information revealed they had been travelling across the county and also provided links to the rest of the group.

Officers started to build up a picture of the full extent of their offending and they were all later arrested and subsequently charged with conspiracy to steal alcohol.

The case concluded at Maidstone Crown Court on 14 July where Stefan, 35, of Sutherland Road, Greater London was sentenced to two years in jail. Cobzarencu, 30, of the same address, was sentenced to one year and eight months in jail.

The other men were sentenced at a previous sentencing on 7 July at the same court.

  • Vincentiu Gheorghe, 34, of Raglan Road, London, was sentenced to two years and one month in jail.

  • Ionut-razvan Gheorghe, 35, of Byron Road, Walthamstow, London, was sentenced to two years and three months in jail.

  • Alin Chica, 23, of Erskine Road, Walthamstow, London, was sentenced to one year and six months in jail.

Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Chris Ellingham said: "This was a complex case which spanned several counties and I’m pleased these men have been sentenced for their offending.

"They were brazen in their actions, stealing vast quantities in broad daylight and worked together to move and sell this alcohol on.

"They committed numerous incidents of theft across the country and believed they would get away with their offending.

"While the supermarkets have insurance to recover their losses, theft is not acceptable and Kent Police takes organised economic crime seriously."

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