A Romanian pickpocket who flew to the UK to target festive revellers has been jailed after brazenly telling police: “A worker has to work, a thief has to steal.”
Trica Niculescu, 58, travelled to Birmingham in December to steal from visitors to the city’s German Christmas market.
The professional thief had only been in the UK for six days when he was seen unzipping an 11-year-old girl’s rucksack on December 17, while a market stallholder had earlier seen him slipping his hand into a woman’s pocket after she took cash from a cash point.
Niculescu, from Craiova in southern Romania, was caught by two police officers who were patrolling the German market and arrested him on suspicion of attempted theft.
In police interview he admitted following dozens of people on the day, before telling stunned officers: “A worker has to work, a thief has to steal.”
The 58-year-old was jailed for eight months after he admitted two counts of attempted theft at Birmingham Crown Court.
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.
He added: “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.”
He said Niculescu would be deported from the UK upon completing his sentence.