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The £150,000 four-bed mansion built by Romanian crime boss who burgled 500 British homes

The £150,000 four-bed mansion built by Romanian crime boss who burgled 500 British homes

This is the mansion paid for by the misery of up to 500 British families burgled by a ruthless Romanian gang.Ringleader Catalin Zaharia and his wife Florina Spiru, who were jailed this week along with three others, built a £150,000 four-bed home in a Black Sea resort while reaping millions in stolen goods.Zaharia, jailed for eight years, built up a property portfolio with his wife in their homeland – while relatives live in breeze-block squalor next door. This is the mansion paid for by the misery of up to 500 British families burgled by a ruthless Romanian gang. Ringleader Catalin Zaharia and his wife Florina Spiru  built the £150,000 four-bed home in a Black Sea resort while reaping millions in stolen goodsHe masterminded the four-year crime spree in which the gang targeted well-to-do homes in the Midlands, breaking in through upstairs windows to steal cash, jewellery and watches which they smuggled back to their homeland on budget flights.They flew back and forth to England under European Union freedom of movement rights as part of plot hatched in 2014 but were only caught thanks to Zaharia’s distinctive size 5 footprints and small traces of DNA. Now the Daily Mail has retraced the ringleader’s steps back to the resort of Constanta on Romania’s Black Sea coast, where four of the gang lived within a few yards of each other in a run-down village.Relatives of Zaharia’s accomplices claim the ringleader did not share the profits of his operation fairly and instead ‘flaunted his wealth’ by driving a BMW.The families of two gang members jailed this week say their sons were pawns while Zaharia, 30, who has two children, bought two new flats in a development overlooking the Black Sea for £200,000 as well as the mansion. Catalin Zaharia (right) was jailed for eight years. He and wife Florina Spiru (left), 28, kept a base in the village of Palazu Mare in the Constanta suburbs. Before moving to England, he lived with Spiru and her mother in a top-floor flatIt is possible the authorities could now attempt to freeze the properties and have them sold to recoup profits under proceeds of crime laws.The mansion towers over neighbours’ ramshackle bungalows with outdoor toilets and chickens in the yard. One relative said: ‘When they are all out of prison and come back here, there will be a gipsy trial against Zaharia. The other men went to jail because of him and after the gipsy judgment he will pay for that. He was the real thief, not them.’The gang’s trial at Birmingham Crown Court heard they could be directly linked to 76 burglaries but detectives suspect they were responsible for around 500. They burgled in pairs, on dark, winter nights, targeting homes across four counties and climbing through upstairs windows to avoid alarms on ground floors.They wore masks, took testing kits to check the purity of gold jewellery and reaped stolen goods worth millions.Zaharia and his wife – the ‘administrator’ who helped launder proceeds – took home cash and jewellery on dozens of flights from Birmingham and Luton to the port of Constanta.Police sources yesterday said Zaharia was involved in four cases of theft and burglary around the Black Sea and river Danube on top of convictions in France and Spain. He and wife Spiru, 28, kept a base in the village of Palazu Mare in the Constanta suburbs. Before moving to England, he lived with Spiru and her mother in a top-floor flat.On the same street lived two of the jailed gang members – cousins Constantin Stoian, 30, and Daniel Stoean, 35, who are related to Spiru.The relative, who did not want to be named, said: ‘Zaharia bragged he was the head of a gang and had people steal for him. As well as building his house he bought two new flats for £200,000 in the nearby resort of Mamaia.‘And he paid for it all by stealing, bringing up to £50,000 back with him on each trip home.’The family home of Stoian, who was given four and a half years after admitting three burglaries, is a moment’s walk away.His father Costica Stoian, 60, said his son was working in construction in Birmingham since 2013. The gang targeted well-to-do homes in the Midlands, breaking in through upstairs windows to steal cash, jewellery and watches which they smuggled back to their homeland on budget flights (Pictured: One of the raids)He said: ‘We are not a criminal family but everything went wrong for him in England after he got mixed up with the wrong people. He told me he was warned if he didn’t do what he was ordered, his children would be left without a father, so he took part in a couple of burglaries.’Mr Stoian, who said his family were Romani, went on: ‘We gipsies have our own traditions going back thousands of years – and after they are all released and return to Romania we will have our own trial and our own judgment.’Spiru’s mother Iona, 59, who lives seconds away, claimed ignorance of any crimes committed by her son-in-law and daughter, who denied money laundering but was jailed for four and a half years.She said: ‘They went to England to make money in scrap metal. They just sent a few pounds to buy food for their daughters, and diabetes pills for me.’

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