Crime gang raided phone shops across Wearside and UK in professionally planned 'smash and grab' robberies

A member of a crime gang who raided phone shops across the UK in a series of professionally planned "smash and grab" robberies has been locked up.

Raiders stormed stores, including Vodaphone and O2, in large groups and used "threats and intimidation" to walk off with over £150,000 of phones and computer tablets.

Newcastle Crown Court heard shops from Southampton, South Tyneside, County Durham, Wearside, up to the borders of Scotland came under attack.

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Marius Dragusano, 21, of Drake Crescent, London, admitted conspiracy to rob and confessed to being part of 15 raids at stores in Leeds, The Galleries inWashington, Seaham, Hartlepool, Northampton, Manchester and Teeside.

Newcastle Crown Court.

He claimed he had been forced by older men, who threatened him and his family, to commit the offences

Assistant Judge Advocate General Edward Legard sentenced Dragusano to 30 months behind bars.

The judge told him: "This involved a number of mobile telephone or similar retail establishments, principally in the North of England but some in Southern Scotland, and the use of force, aggression, threats directed against staff and customers.

"You proceeded to steal large quantities of mobile devices, laptops, tablets, you deliberately targeted the most expensive items.

"You were personally linked to 15."

The judge added: "Anyone who subjects those who work within, or customers of those establishments, anyone who subjects them to violence or threats of violence or aggression must expect to be, and will be, severely punished by the courts."

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The court heard Dragusano is now married with children and has worked in the construction industry in the capital.

Marin, of no fixed address but who was living in Harehills, Leeds, was carrying 13 mobile phones when he was arrested and was heavily involved in the raids.

The court heard the 19-year-old was already serving a 54 month sentence for a separate shop robbery, which took place after these offences, when he was sentenced to a further two years and nine months behind bars.

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Stefan, 18, of Bayswater Row, Harehills, Leeds, played a lesser role and took part in four of the phone shop raids and was sentenced to a youth rehabilitation order with supervision and 200 hours unpaid work.