- The trio targeted several people on London buses including a blind woman on crutches
- The Judge called it ‘a deliberate campaign to make money’
- They were sentenced to four months in jail
16:39, 3 August 2012
16:39, 3 August 2012
A gang of Bulgarian pickpockets who targeted the disabled and blind were sentenced to jail today.
Gergina Georgjeva, 21, Dimitra Miteva, 33, and Parashkeva Ilieva, 40, will spend four months behind bars for stealing from people on buses across London in a ‘deliberate campaign to make money’.
The women targeted several people, including a blind woman on crutches as she travelled on a bus in Oxford Street.
Caught pickpocketing: The three Bulgarian women will spend four months behind bars after stealing from several people across London
The trio from Tottenham, north London stole mobile phones and purses using a strategy where two of them would stand near their target while the third acted as the ‘dipper’ to swipe the item.
Prosecutor Gavin Ludlow-Thompson said the blind woman, Patricia Cairns was an easy target for their attack in February.
He said: ‘She was a severely disabled person who is blind and also gets around on crutches. She therefore presented to the team, if I can call them that, an easy target.’
Miss Cairns became aware that something was amiss and tried to signal to the bus driver but the trio fled, pushing the emergency button which released the doors.
Vulnerable victim: A blind woman using crutches was targeted by the gang while on board a bus in Oxford Street
Later that same day, the pickpockets stole an iPhone from a man waiting at a bus stop and on March 31 they stole a woman’s purse on board a bus in Stoke Newington, north London.
They were also caught on CCTV pickpocketing in Sydenham and Brixton in south London and Tottenham in north London.
In sentencing them, Judge Anthony Leonard QC said: ‘You acted as a group or in pairs of individually as professional thieves on those who were using buses through a wide area of London.
‘It included the theft of a blind and disabled person who I judge to be a vulnerable person.
Stealing spree: After stealing from the blind woman, the gang snatched an iPhone from a man waiting at a bus stop
‘Each of you may show your remorse now but that does not affect the fact that this was a deliberate campaign by the three of you to make money.
‘These offences are so serious that a fine alone or community order could not be justified.’
Police were not aware the women lived and pickpocketed together until after investigations two separate arrests.
Georgjeva was arrested on May 9 and received a five week sentence for a similar matter.
Two weeks later the other two were arrested when undercover cops saw them acting suspiciously.
It was when police searched their house that they discovered Georgjeva also lived with them and was part of the gang.
The stolen items have never been recovered but Georgjeva was charged with handling stolen goods and theft after a purse and Oyster card were found in her possession.
Mateva and Ilieva claimed they came to the UK to find legitimate work to pay for medical care of their children with heart conditions back home in Bulgaria but fell into a life of crime, their lawyers said.