Jailed: Distraction theft gang who targeted vulnerable London City Airport passengers
- Credit: Met Police
Three men who stole £100,000 worth of posessions from passengers, including those at London City Airport, have been jailed for more than 12 years.
The South American nationals - along with an accomplice who is yet to be sentenced - carried out the distraction thefts at City, Heathrow and Stansted airports within the space of a week in September last year.
Isleworth Crown Court heard how police launched an investigation following the first thefts at City and Heathrow on September 6. Others took place at Heathrow on September 9 and 12, and at Stansted on September 10.
Officers discovered the group - José de Jesus Boada Penaranda, Reynaldo Willy Weston, Juan Gabriel Romero Hernandez and José de Jesus Boada Penaranda - would work as a team and use distraction techniques on elderly or unsuspecting travellers either leaving or arriving in the UK.
A silver Mercedes car was parked in the area at the time of each offences.
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Officers managed to trace three of the suspects in the car to a supermarket car park in Camberwell, south London, where they were arrested on suspicion of theft in September.
A bag seen on CCTV being used in thefts at City and Heathrow was found in the car, as well as a pair of earphones Hernandez had worn during the London City Airport thefts.
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Penaranda was arrested at Bethnal Green tube station in November.
The gang, all of no fixed address, were found to have stolen property including jewellery, identification documents and cash.
Jose Martin Encarnacion Flores, 53, was jailed for four years and six months for four counts of theft.
Reynaldo Willy Weston, 66, was jailed for four years and six months for five counts of theft.
Juan Gabriel Romero Hernandez, 55, was jailed for four years and 10 months' imprisonment for four counts of theft.
José de Jesus Boada Penaranda, 61, is due to be sentenced on Wednesday, December 4.
Pc Barry Munnelly said: "These criminals arrived in the UK in August with the express purpose of carrying out callous acts of theft against elderly and vulnerable people.
"However, following their first offence, officers were quick to identify and arrest them. They will now spend a considerable time behind bars before being deported."
He added that stolen items which were recovered have been returned to their owners.