A WIRRAL gang that raided mobile phone shops across the north west of England has been jailed.
Viorel Zlat, Dragos Stan and Alim Batista broke into nine mobile phone shops between Saturday August 31 and Tuesday September 3 this year and stole almost £100,000 worth of mobile phones.
The group, who all lived on Borough Road in Oxton, targeted stores in Northwich, Macclesfield, Sale, Denton, Bradford, Prescott and Bolton.
On each occasion they used a distinctive red axe to force entry into the stores. Once inside they caused immense damage in order to steal mobile phones and electronic tablets from the sales floors.
Their downfall came after detectives from Northwich identified Zlat's vehicle at each location at the time the offences were committed.
Police also recovered forensic evidence. Phone data also placed the group at all but one of the incidents.
Following the discovery officers raided their home in Wirral where they recovered the red axe along with distinctive clothing worn by the group during their crime spree.
Zlat, 20, Batista, 23 and 19-year-old Stan were all subsequently charged with, and pleaded guilty to, nine counts of burglary. Stan also admitted driving without insurance.
They all appeared at Chester Crown Court on Wednesday, December 18, where they were sentenced to a combined total of nine years and two months in prison.
The ringleader Zlat was jailed for three years 10 months while Batista and Stan were both sentenced to two years and eight months in prison.
After sentencing, Detective Sergeant Simon Parker, from Northwich Local Policing Unit, said: "I welcome the sentences handed to this group and I hope that they act as a warning to other offenders who are thinking of coming to Cheshire to commit crime.
"These men were all members of a sophisticated group led by Zlat who carried out nine carefully planned burglaries at mobile phone shops across the north of England.
"Not only did they steal more than £93,000 worth of stock, but they also caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to each of the stores.
"Thankfully, as a result of the work conducted by the dedicated team of detectives here at Northwich, their crime spree has now been brought to an end and they are facing the consequences of their actions.
"The fact that they have all pleaded guilty to the offences is testament to the strength of the evidence gathered in this case."