A Romanian tourist couple who used a child to steal a high value watch have been jailed.
The pair appeared at Southwark Crown Court on Monday, 14 December where they pleaded guilty to shoplifting and were sentenced as follows:
Ilie Para, 35 (15.03.85) of Brampton Grove, NW4 was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.
Marta Para-Bloj, also 35 (07.03.85) of Brampton Grove, NW4 was sentenced to 8 months imprisonment.
At approximately 15:00hrs on Saturday, 19 December Ilie Para, Marta Para-Bloj and a young child visited the watch section of a department store in Brompton Road, SW1.
Posing as genuine customers, intent on purchasing a luxury watch, the pair took an interest in an 18ct rose gold Royal Oak Offshore Audemars Piguet watch worth £67,400.
While the sales assistant was distracted, Para conceals the watch in his jacket and replaces it with a nearly identical replica hidden in the hood of the child’s jacket.
After making the swap, the couple leave the store saying they need to think about the purchase.
The store realised what had happened a day later and launched an internal investigation before calling police.
CCTV from the venue showed that the couple had visited the Knightsbridge department store to try on, and take photos of the watch, in the days leading up to the theft.
The pair, who are Romanian nationals, had arrived at the store in their black Audi A3, the same car they used in their attempt to flee the country after the theft.
Police, with the assistance of partner agencies, quickly identified the pair and with support from the UK Border Authority it was confirmed that they arrived from Romania shortly after 19:15hrs on Friday, 11 September.
The pair were arrested by Kent Police on Friday, 25 September as they attempted to leave the country in their Audi at the Port of Dover.
On arrest, Ilie Para was found wearing the £67,400 watch they had stolen days previously.
PC Andy Goodchild, who led the investigation, said: “This couple entered the UK with the intention to steal. They meticulously planned the theft, carried out reconnaissance and obtained a replica of the item they wanted to take. Perhaps even worse, they used a child to carry out their plot."