Tourists jailed for crime spree


(eTN) – Two Romanian tourists who preyed on elderly women throughout the North Island were jailed yesterday.

Alexandru Marius Mihaita 31, and Daniela Vasile, 27, robbed and cheated women, some as old as 83, in a five-week crime spree.

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The New Plymouth District Court was told that their crime spree started two days after they arrived in New Zealand in September.

Onve a victim was selected, one of them would spy on her to get her bank card pin number.

Then one would distract the woman by asking for direction and the other would snatch her handbag, gaining cash and bank cards.

The pair were yesterday jailed for two years on 18 charges of theft, 27 charges of using a document and four charges of attempting to use a document.

“Your operation was a confidence trick not usually associated with New Zealand offenders,” Judge Allan Roberts said.

He said the pair’s claim that they were enticed into the offending by an unknown man in Auckland, as well as claims they were forced to send money home to a gypsy, were “fanciful”.

The court was told the dozens of victims would never get a cent out of the pair as they had sent all of the stolen $21,960 home.

The officer in charge of the case, Detective Mark Scott, said it was some of the most low-life offending he had ever encountered.

Mihaita, who it was revealed had a wife and two children in Spain, and Vasile will be deported immediately after their release from prison.