Vasile Bogdan wore a wig and woman's clothing as part of the disguise (Met Police)
Vasile Bogdan wore a wig and women's clothing as part of the disguise (Met Police)

A man who disguised himself as a woman to steal more than £600,000 worth of jewellery from a number of stores has been jailed.

Vasile Bogdan, 35, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to robbing five jewellery stores while dressed as a woman.

Bogdan, a Romanian national, disguised himself to gain trust of the staff working at the stores before letting other members of the gang in to steal the jewellery.

The court heard how the rest of the men would use sledgehammers to take the jewellery, taking as much as £300,000 in one raid

Bogdan and his gang seized more than £600,000 of gold jewellery in a series of raids in east London and Birmingham between October 2012 and February 2013.

Bodgan was eventually caught after a shop owner chased him down the street and apprehended him.

Bogdan was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery and pleaded guilty during a court hearing on 6 August. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment at the Old Bailey.

Judge Richard Marks said the Romanian came into this country for no other reason other than to take part in the raids, treating his journeys over to the UK like "business trips".

He said: "It is very obvious you were able to fund these journeys backwards and forwards to Romania from your ill-gotten gains from your involvement in these robberies.

"Moreover, I am driven to the conclusion that you came here for the express purpose of involving yourself in these robberies, which were unquestionably highly planned and carried out with determination and professionalism."

He added the robberies involved a "significant degree of sophistication".

The gang's first robbery took place in High Manor Park, on 25 November 2012. They later hit another store in East Ham on 4 December.

The gang struck again in Upton Park on 22 December, this time making off with £350,000 of gold jewellery.

Bogdan, who had four previous convictions for theft in Romania, was eventually arrested after the gang hit a store in Bethnal Green on 25 January

The rest of the gang have yet to be arrested by police.

Following Bogdan's sentence, det insp Ralf Kirchel said: "I'd like to thank the jewellery owner store who bravely chased after the gang after they'd robbed his store.

"This gang developed a M.O. that worked, and they kept repeating it, stealing thousands and thousands of pounds of gold jewellery.

"They are clearly highly organised and put preparation and planning into each offence. We know that Bogdan came into the UK on January 23 from Hungary. Our investigation is ongoing and does have links to other countries; we will do everything we can to track down the rest of this gang."