Scrap metal thieves from West Ham targeted cable opposite Old Bailey

Three scrap metal thieves who targeted a building site opposite the Old Bailey have been jailed.

Constantin Dascalu, 30, and Marius Farcas, 27, both of Ham Park Road, West Ham, and Bogdan Mateita, 27, of Plymouth Road, Canning Town, tried to take �13,650 of copper cabling from the former London headquarters of the Crown Prosecution Service.

The gang was collared after a CCTV operator spotted their van and called police.

The vacant building, which stands directly opposite the Old Bailey, where Britain’s most serious criminals are tried, had been awaiting demolition prior to redevelopment as a new office complex.

Passing sentence at the Old Bailey, Ms Recorder Maura McGowan told the men: “This type of offence is becoming very prevalent.”

She added: “You were all caught red-handed. What you did was totally unacceptable, dishonest behaviour.”

Dascalu was jailed for two years and two months, while Farcas and Mateita received two-year and 18-month terms respectively.

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The judge also ordered that the van, owned by Mateita, be forfeited.

The court heard that the three men, and two others who remain at large, broke into the building site in the early hours of September 7.

The CPS had moved its headquarters in June 2010.

Mateita arrived in a white Mercedes van at 3am and Farcas and Dascalu began loading up.

But the gang had been spotted on CCTV, and City of London police arrived before they could drive away.

Mateita stayed in the cab but the others tried to run off.

Farcas and Dascalu were both arrested after a short chase, while their unidentified accomplices managed to escape.

Dascalu had been arrested last June when he was found by police on a building site in Nottingham in the middle of the night.

He initially told officers he had been visiting a girlfriend and was innocently walking back to his car.

Farcas was caught with �2,000 of stolen copper cables in his car just a month before the bungled raid, and was later convicted of handling stolen goods and driving other than in accordance with a licence.

The court heard that all three men had moved to this country from Romania since 2007 and had previously worked as builders.

The defendants all admitted burglary.