Two alleged burglars were remanded in custody yesterday accused of multiple raids on shops and restaurants across Belfast.
Conor Allen, 26, and Andrew Aparicio, 31, appeared before the city’s Magistrate’s Court jointly charged with a series of break-ins, including the theft of £15,000 worth of stock from a clothes store.
Safes and thousands of pounds in cash were also taken from other businesses during an alleged crime-spree targeting 15 different premises.
A judge was told police believe the pair are part of a bigger gang.
Allen, a joiner from Ormiston Drive, and Aparicio, of Russell Court – both in Belfast – face a combined total of 24 burglary and three attempted burglary charges.
The alleged offences were committed at commercial premises in the south and east of the city between July and November last year.
Allen is also accused of possessing class B cannabis and class C lyrica drugs.
His solicitor, Dennis Boyd, said he denied all the charges and would be seeking bail next week.
Both men are accused of stealing £15,000 worth of goods from David Kerr Clothing on the Newtownards Road last August.
More than £2,000 in cash and a safe was allegedly stolen in a raid on a Mexican restaurant on the Lisburn Road a month later.
A similar amount of money and an iPad was taken from an Upper Newtownards Road butchers in September, according to the charges.
Other counts include thefts from restaurants, coffee chops, takeaways and a hairdressers.
Opposing Aparicio’s application for bail, an investigating detective said: “Police believe both (accused) are involved in a crime gang.”
A defence lawyer stressed that he also completely denied the charges against him.
With all the burglaries said to have taken place between midnight and 7am, she argued that CCTV installed at Aparicio’s apartment block would ease concerns about his future activities.
But refusing bail, District Judge Ken Nixon cited the risk of re-offending. Allen and Aparicio were both remanded in custody to appear again by video-link later this month.