Member of Romanian crime gang which raided phone shops across North East and UK is jailed
A member of a Romanian crime gang which raided phone shops across the UK in a series of planned "smash and grab" robberies has been locked up.
The group walked off with more than £150,000 of phones and computer tablets after they stormed stores between May 2018 to June 2019.
Two shops in Hartlepool were among those targeted.
Newcastle Crown Court originally heard that many of the gang members have since fled back to Romania.
However, Ionatan Marin and Ionatan Stefan both admitted conspiracy to rob and appeared back at the same court on Wednesday to be sentenced.
Marin, of no fixed address but previously of 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 is already serving a 54-month sentence for a separate shop robbery committed after these offences.
Stefan, 18, of Bayswater Row, Harehills, Leeds, played a lesser role and took part in four raids.
A Hartlepool store was targeted in July 2018 before the gang returned to town the following month to raid Carphone Warehouse.
Jonathon Walker, prosecuting, added: "There were large groups entering the stores, there was aggression and then the phones were snatched."
Passing sentence, Mr Recorder Haythorne said: "It required planning and it involved separate members of the gang in the shop at the same time to carry out the robbery.
"The total value of items stolen was considerable and I'm satisfied that they were not being stolen for personal use."
Marin was sentenced to two years and nine months while Stefan received a youth rehabilitation order with supervision and 200 hours of unpaid work.