Crossdressing robber gets 10 year jail term

CCTV footage of Vasile Bogdan, and inset, Bogdan in police custody. Picture: PA
CCTV footage of Vasile Bogdan, and inset, Bogdan in police custody. Picture: PA
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A man who disguised himself as a woman to help steal more than £540,000 worth of jewellery in London and Birmingham has been jailed for 10 years.

• Vasile Bogdan, 35, gets decade in jail after trying to rob £540,000 worth of jewellery while dressed as a woman

• Romanian national made raids in London and Birmingham jewellery stores

Vasile Bogdan, 35, donned a wig and women’s clothing during a series of raids at jewellery stores in east London and Birmingham, Scotland Yard said.

The Romanian national, of no fixed abode, was eventually caught in January after he was apprehended by one of the store’s owners.

Bogdan was dressed as a woman when he entered a shop in High Street, Manor Park, on November 25 last year, shortly before a group of men burst in wielding sledge hammers.

They fled with £60,000 worth of gold jewellery before detectives tracked down their escape route and recovered Bogdan’s clothes and masks in a nearby park.

On December 4, Bogdan disguised himself as a woman again before a gang of men ransacked a shop in Plashet Grove, East Ham.

They escaped with £35,000 worth of jewellery before clothing was recovered later from a nearby railway line and a housing estate.

The gang struck again on December 22 in Green Street, Forest Gate, when two men disguised as women entered a jewellery store. A group of men wielding sledge hammers then followed and made off with £350,000 worth of gold jewellery.

On January 5, a gang of 10 men, including one dressed as a woman, targeted a store in Stratford Road, Birmingham, but fled empty handed before discarding their balaclavas, gloves and sledge hammers.

Less than three weeks later, a group of six to eight men smashed display case with sledge hammers at a store in Bethnal Green Road, Bethnal Green, to steal £100,000 worth of jewellery.

They fled into into Weavers Field Park when Bogdan was caught by the jewellery store owner.

He was arrested at the scene and found to be in possession of 950 euro (£818) and £320.

Bogdan was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery and pleaded guilty during a court hearing on August 6.

Detectives from the Metropolitan Police’s Flying Squad said they are continuing efforts to trace the other men involved in the robberies.

Following the sentencing at the Old Bailey today, Detective Inspector 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.”