Romanian pickpockets who stole from London Underground Tube passengers jailed

Two Romanian pickpockets have been jailed after they stole from Tube passengers across London and used the family to fly home to their families.

Gabriel Gabara, 31, and Gigi Parnica, 28, carried out a series of thefts at Tube stations across the capital after arriving in the UK late last year.

They were caught when a plain clothes police officer saw them trying to steal from a woman in her 70s at West Ham Station in east London on February 1.  

Prosecutor Geoffrey Porter told Snaresbrook Crown Court: ‘They seemed to have a trolley bag with them, a feature of a number of cases. It makes you look as though you are a legitimate traveller.’

Mr Porter told the court their victims included a mother travelling with her two young children and a tourist.

Gabriel Gabara, 31, and Gigi Parnica, 28, were jailed at Snaresbrook Crown Court (pictured) 

Most of the items stolen were not high in value, but the thefts included sentimental items such as jewellery and in one case, a photograph of the victim’s parents.

Mr Porter said of their arrest: ‘The plain clothes police officers noticed these two defendants.

‘They were paying attention to an elderly female, around 70 to 75 years of age. They circled her.

‘She became aware that something was going on, that she was being pickpocketed.

‘The officer stopped both of the defendants and spoke to the lady, she did not wish to give a statement.’

Bridget Irving, defending, said: ‘The situation is that they both came together in December last year on the promise of accommodation and work.

‘When they arrived the work did not materialise but they were still obliged to pay rent and accommodation. They started to offend initially to pay the rent.

‘They both decided for a while that they couldn’t sustain this way of life and they returned to Romania.’ 

The judge asked how the pair paid for their return flight, to which Ms Irving said it had been partially funded by the money they stole. 

Ms Irving told the court the pair then decided to return to London after a few weeks.

‘The main mitigation is their guilty plea. They pleaded guilty at the Magistrates’ Court to their credit.

‘The last matter related to the 75-year-old there was no statement and they still pleaded guilty to it.

‘If they receive a custodial sentence they would serve it and at the end they would most certainly be deported. They have no history of offending.’

Sentencing them to 18 months in prison each, Mr Recorder Peter Guest said: ‘I have to sentence you for what I am going to describe as a campaign of theft against innocent people travelling on, or in the vicinity of, the underground network.

‘You, through your advocate tell me that you came to this country in November last year.

‘When you were eventually arrested you, Mr Parnica, had in your possession a mobile telephone which was stolen by way of pickpocketing from a woman travelling with her daughter.

‘The thefts began chronologically on 28 December. The loser was traveling through West Ham station, a busy interchange and she had with her her two young daughters.

‘Her telephone was stolen by you while she was helping her children on the escalator,’ added the judge.

‘I am told that you left the United Kingdom and went back to your family in Romania.

‘When I asked how you funded your flights the only answer is that it must have come from the proceeds of crime.

‘You went back because you had no work and returned in three weeks or so, and within a few days of your return you committed your fourth offence.

‘It is to be noted that in each of these cases the losers were women, one was a tourist, one had two young children with her and one was of advanced years, chosen, I am satisfied, either because they would be distracted or they were concentrating on finding their way.’

Gabara and Parnica, both of Rainham, Essex, admitted three counts of theft and one attempted theft. 

Parnica also admitted to handling stolen goods. They were sentenced to 18 months in prison each.