Terri-ann Williams, Daily Mail, January 18, 2019
A gang of four mothers who used a specially-tailored skirt with concealed pockets to steal £4,500 of high-end perfume from Boots have been jailed for more than five years.
The four women — who have 25 children between them — travelled from London to Hampshire to target high street store Boots while ‘equipped’ with the garments adapted by hand, which included pockets which had been sewn into the inside of the skirt in order to conceal the items.
Olga Mihai, 45, Reica Petre, 40, Carmen Stoica, 41, and Cintariata Veriga, 35, have been jailed for a total of five years and three months after suspicious security guards tracked them down on CCTV when they left the store in Hampshire.
The mothers, all from Waltham Forest in London, worked as a team whilst one distracted a member of staff at the store in Eastleigh, so the others could stuff the fragrances into skirts and bags before making an exit.
Southampton Crown Court heard when police later stopped them in a car and discovered the stolen goods, they claimed they had taken them to give to their families for Christmas.
Describing the theft, prosecutor Siobhan Linsley said: ‘They asked for a shop assistant and they asked them to open the glass cabinet which contained the perfume.
‘While the staff member was distracted the ladies placed the perfume in both bags and in their skirts which had been specially adapted with a lining.’
In a bid to cover their tracks after the theft on December 16 last year, the women took perfume worth £1,600 to the checkout, but told the staff member at the till they had no money before leaving the store.
Ms Linsley added that all four women had previous convictions, mostly theft-related, with Veriga having 19 convictions.
In mitigation, Charlotte Bellamy said all four were mothers, with Stoic, Petre and Veriga having seven children each and Mihai having four children and two grandchildren.
Miss Bellamy said the women, who had been held in prison since their arrest, missed Christmas and New Year with their families and said jailing them would further impact them.
She also argued the group were also visiting a friend in Eastleigh and had not entered the town solely to steal but that was rejected by Judge Nicholas Rowland, who described the claims as ‘manifestly false and wholly inaccurate’.
He also rejected Miss Bellamy’s request to hand down suspended sentences for the four women, who each admitted theft.
He said: ‘These four women came together from London or that area with the intention of stealing in Eastleigh.
‘They came equipped for the theft with garments. That puts this offence firmly in the highest category.’
Petre and Veriga were given 18 month prison sentences, while Mihai was jailed for 15 months, and Stoicka was jailed for 12 months.
Boots revealed the £4,500 worth of perfume can no longer be sold even though it was returned.