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Gang distracted shop assistant in €30,000 jewellery raid

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Guilty: Daniel Constantin Mandescu (30), Vasilica Bita (54) and Larisa Craioveanca (31). Photo: North West Newspix

Guilty: Daniel Constantin Mandescu (30), Vasilica Bita (54) and Larisa Craioveanca (31). Photo: North West Newspix

Guilty: Daniel Constantin Mandescu (30), Vasilica Bita (54) and Larisa Craioveanca (31). Photo: North West Newspix

A gang distracted a shop assistant before stealing almost €30,000 in cash and jewellery from a Co Donegal antique shop.

Three of the gang of six appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court yesterday and admitted the burglary of Mourne Antiques in Letterkenny on January 18.

The court was told six people came into the store at around 4pm when just one shop assistant was working.

A number of the people distracted the employee while one of the gang managed to gain entry to the staff room at the rear of the premises.

The woman then gained entry to a safe and took €5,000 in cash as well as 18 pieces of jewellery which were valued at more than €22,000.

The three before the court were Daniel Constantin Mandescu and Larisa Craioveanca, of Usher's Quay, Dublin 8, and Vasilica Bita, of Belmont Court, Dublin 3.

All pleaded guilty to the charges against them.

CCTV footage within the shop shows one of the women putting the items into a makeshift bag which was around her waist under her clothing.

The gang then left the shop quickly and the shop was closed up as normal a short time later.

However, that evening the shop assistant returned to the store after reconsidering the suspicious behaviour earlier in the day.

He noticed the items and the cash were missing and contacted the shop owner, Frances Spears, who was in Dublin at a trade show.

Gardaí then issued a national media alert for information about the crime.

A few days later on January 30, Det Gda Frank McDaid was off duty when he spotted a number of the suspects and, along with colleagues, arrested them in Buncrana.

The court was told that only a small number of the stolen items have been recovered.

Ms Spears said that much of the jewellery that was stolen had been left at her shop for repair or valuation.

"My customers were very upset at their loss," she said.

"Some were sympathetic but I knew they wouldn't put their trust in me lightly as they did before.

"Another worry: how do I build their trust?

"How could these thieves just take what they liked, from anyone they liked, whenever they liked?"

The court heard that all three accused had previous convictions for theft in a number of countries, including Germany, Belgium and Northern Ireland.

The case was adjourned for sentencing.

Irish Independent