Gang who targeted elderly in East Ham to serve more than 18 years

A gang of pickpockets who targeted elderly, vulnerable passengers have been jailed for more than 18 years after admitting their plot to steal.

All four, who had no fixed address in the UK, will be deported after serving their sentence.

Ion Badea, 39, was jailed for five years; Adrian Ragalie, 44 will serve four years and four months; Paul Cuza, 43, was jailed for four and a half years imprisonment and Petrica Gheorghe, 42 will serve four years and four months. All admiited conspiracy to steal at Snaresbrook Crown Court on September 13.

They were spotted by police officers who saw the gang targeting predominantly elderly people after they had withdrawn large sums of money from banks. The victims were followed to bus stops and distracted by the gang by crowding the victim on a bus while stealing from them.

Officers realised the gang were starting out from East Ham transport hub in High Street North by Easy Ham station and carried out a surveillance operation at the location. As they came through the station, officers suspected that they were about to offend and moved in and arrested them for theft distraction/pickpocket offences both on and off the transport network.

All of the defendants pleaded guilty in court due to the overwhelming CCTV and evidential material laid before them.