A pickpocket who flew into Birmingham to target revellers at the Christmas market has been jailed after police caught him dipping into a schoolgirl’s backpack.
Romanian national Trica Niculescu had only been in the UK for six days when, on December 17 he was spotted unzipping an 11-year-old girl’s rucksack on New Street.
A stallholder had earlier witnessed the 58-year-old slip his hand into a woman’s pocket after she’d withdrawn money from an ATM. He alerted two police officers patrolling the German market who collared Niculescu and arrested him on suspicion of attempted theft.
In police interview he admitted following dozens of people on the day and would have stolen from all of them had the opportunity arisen − and then brazenly told officers “a worker has to work, a thief has to steal”.
He admitted unzipping the girl’s rucksack, looking inside but said he didn’t bother putting his hand inside as there was “nothing worth stealing”.
Niculescu, of no fixed address but originally from Craiova in Southern Romania, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted theft and at Birmingham Crown Court on Thursday (17/01) and was jailed for eight months.
West Midlands Police PC Mat Evans, from Birmingham Police’s City Centre Prevent Team, said: “In sentencing, the judge described Niculescu as a ‘professional, international pickpocket who came to the UK to target the German market and ply his trade’.
“In interview he almost came across as being proud of being a pickpocket and didn’t seem to express any remorse for targeting innocent people and even children.
“I’d like to thank the vigilant stallholder who spotted Niculescu at ‘work’ in the crowd and raised the alarm with us; had he not done so Niculescu may well have gone on to spoil many people’s night at the market.
“Niculescu will be deported from the UK upon completing his sentence.”
Birmingham Police’s Prevent Team patrols the city centre on the look-out for pickpockets and works with stores and security guards to combat retail crime.