IT is two years ago this month since two professional pickpockets who preyed on Worcester’s elderly were told they would be deported back to Romania.

Tabita Mihai and Florica Stan carried clipboards while posing as charity workers, hugging their elderly victims while lifting cash from wallets and purses.

Between the two mothers, they stole £1,470 - often without their victims noticing the cash was missing until later.

The pair would split the stolen cash, using it to pay for food, rent, clothing and other bills.

The thefts happened between January 11 and January 25 in 2018, causing what the judge described as ‘real trauma’ to the victims – one of whom was 82 years old.


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However, Stan stole a further £890, taking Christmas money from a retired woman in Worcester.

The woman who had £890 stolen by Stan said she felt ‘sullied’ by the experience. She had even held open the door for the thief as she entered Cookmate, in Broad Street, only for Stan to bump into her and steal the cash.

The evil acts were branded ‘wicked’, ‘vile’ and ‘despicable.’

The judge described the women as ‘cunning’, practised, efficient and accomplished pickpockets.

Both women were sentenced at Worcester Crown Court , Mihai appeared via videolink from prison and Stan was in the dock.

They admitted a string of distraction thefts, some in Worcester and Droitwich.

Recorder Allan Mainds said if he jailed the mothers for more than 12 months they could be deported.

He said: “These are serious offences carried out with more than a simple degree of cunning, taking advantage of elderly people on the streets.

“It’s clear you are both practised and efficient pickpockets. So accomplished are you at this you are able to part substantial sums of money - substantial as far as the losers are concerned - from them without them realising until afterwards that the money has gone, sometimes from the wallet without the wallet as a whole being taken.

“You were doing this over and over again. It is clear that each of these people suffered real trauma as a result of them having money stolen from them by you.”

He asked that their papers be brought to the attention of the Home Office and that necessary steps be taken, if appropriate, to send them back to Romania.

A Home Office spokesperson was not able to confirm at what stage the women would be deported.

But she said: “Foreign nationals who abuse our hospitality by committing crimes in the UK should be in no doubt of our determination to deport them.”

Mihai, aged 19, of Ermington Crescent, Birmingham, admitted five thefts and one attempted theft. She was jailed for 12 months.

Ranjit Lallie, for Mihai, said his client was a mother-of-two who came to the UK aged 11. She went back to Romania at 15 and returned to the UK when she was 18.

Mr Lallie said Mihai had applications pending for benefits but they had been ‘pending for some time’. He told the court she had worked, selling the Big Issue and once had a packaging job.

He added: “She was told about the pickpocketing scam when begging on the streets and initially refused. She became desperate and joined the enterprise.”

Stan, aged 25, also of Ermington Crescent, Birmingham, admitted six thefts and one attempted theft. The judge jailed her for 16 months.

Mohammed Riaz, for Stan, said the mother-of-three had had a difficult upbringing but wanted a proper job and had worked in the past.

He said: “The financial reward for those employments was not sufficient to meet the financial requirements of taking care of the children.”

At the time, this story sparked a reaction from our Worcester News readers.

Melissa Flynn wrote: “Send them back and let their own country pay for them. They have cost enough money to put them through court. They should also have to repay the victims for the money taken.”

Kim Bishopp said: “Utterly despicable behaviour. They should be on the first plane out of here.”

Sam Gardner wrote: “Deport both and their families. Sad for those Europeans that do work hard here. I agree we have enough low lives of our own in this country to deal with.”

Haroon Abid wrote: “Our elderly people deserve better. They worked very hard in their life. No one should be allowed to mess around with them.”