A prolific shoplifter who targeted supermarkets across the country and was arrested in Dover as he attempted to flee the UK has been jailed.


Alexandru Cercel was convicted of stealing almost £6,000 of alcohol during a two-year crime spree which included a Tesco store in Maidstone.  

Cercel had been wanted by several police forces for offences carried out between October 2021 and June 2023.

He was part of a criminal gang which stole high value alcohol from shops in Kent, as well as other areas including Essex and Hertfordshire.

In one instance, Cercel entered a Cambridge supermarket eight times in one day, stealing spirits with a value of more than a thousand pounds.

The latest theft was on 13 June 2023, when he targeted a Tesco in Farleigh Hill, Maidstone along with two associates. They concealed eight bottles of spirits worth £300.

On 1 July 2023, enquiries established Cercel had booked a ferry from Dover to France.

His vehicle was located by police officers as it was in a queue to board the ferry and he was arrested.

At Maidstone Crown Court, the 39-year-old pleaded guilty to seven counts of theft. A further 24 offences were taken into consideration.

Cercel, from Dagenham was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.

Relentless and organised criminality

PC Katie Blowers, of the Maidstone Victim Based Crime Team, said:

‘When Cercel was arrested at the Port of Dover he claimed he had only been in the country two weeks on holiday, visiting family and friends, and was simply travelling back home to Romania.

‘The reality was very different. He was part of an organised criminal gang which relentlessly targeted shops to steal as much high value alcohol as possible.

‘It is also likely that this case is the tip of an iceberg in terms of other possible offences involving Cercel. It is reassuring, therefore, to see the courts supporting the work we do to protect retailers by passing what is a significant custodial sentence.’

By Ed

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