Five Romanians in court over Belfast burglary

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An alleged five strong Romanian “organised crime gang” from Dublin appeared in court on Saturday accused of a £660 distraction burglary at a Belfast shop.

Sisters Narghita Serdaru, 36, and 37-year-old Christina Serdaru, Danusia Poenaru, also 37 and two teenagers, 19-year-old Bogdan Miclescu and a 15-year-old (who cannot be identified because of his age) were all charged with burglary at Greenways newsagents on the Stewartstown Road in west Belfast last Thursday where they stole £660.

A police spokesperson said at the time the incident was a distraction type burglary when the cash was stolen from the staff area at the rear of the shop.

A constable told Belfast Magistrates Court he believed he could connect all five to the charge.

Describing the defendants as an “organised crime gang,” Constable Miney said police believed they had travelled up from the Irish Republic “with the intent of carrying out this offence”.

He described how CCTV within the shop had captured how all give had gone into the shop and played different roles — Poenaru and Christina Serdaru went into the storeroom, Miclescu off to the side of the counter to block the owners view while Narghita Serdaru and the 15-year-old distracted his attention away.

“He knew something was wrong,” said the cop adding that he shouted for his niece to help and went to the back of the shop to investigate but was pushed back by one of the women.

The five fled from the premises and jumped into a silver Vauxhall Astra which sped away but not knowing the area, they first drove into a dead end street and had to turn around and drive past their alleged victim who noted the registration and that the three women in the back were all “lying down.”

Around 90 minutes later, at around 5 pm, police in Banbridge stopped the Astra car and arrested all five.

Constable Miney said it was clear the gang were making a “break for the border,” that officers noticed the women had all changed their clothing and that when searched, the stolen cash was uncovered in Poenaru’s bra.

During police interviews Poenaru, from the Whitehorn Road in Dublin, refused to answer questions while Christina Serdaru, from the Thomas Moore Road, claimed she was in Belfast looking for cheap school uniforms.

Constable Miney said that apart from the mistake of driving into a cul de sac, the gang had been well organised and each had played their respective roles, adding that police were objecting to their release on bail amid fears that with neither ties nor addresses in NI, they would flee and never return for trial.

With the exception of the 15-year-old boy, District Judge Amanda Henderson said the “risk of flight is a strong concern.”

“I have no doubt that this is an organised crime gang and that I have no doubt that if they went back to Dublin, we would never see them again,” said the judge.

Narghita Serdaru, from Gracefield Road and Miclescu, also with an address on the Thomas Moore Road, Christina Serdaru and Poenaru, who was going to plead guilty but the PPS said they could not take a plea on Saturday, were all remanded into custody to appear again on 26 August.

The boy’s father meanwhile ran from the court in an effort to withdraw the £950 cash surety the judge ordered must be lodged with the court before his release.