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Four men have been jailed for a total of 16 years for stealing a total of £47,000 in a series of bank follow off thefts.
All four were sentenced on Friday, 6 March at Snaresbrook Crown Court after pleading guilty to six theft offences.
Jose Manacabo Rodriguez , 42 (24.08.1972) Mexican, of no fixed abode was sentenced to six years for four offences of theft person committed on 26 March 2014, 16 April 2014, 8 July 2014 and 11 September 2014.
Juan Pablo Aguilar Hernandez, 48 (30.06.1966) Mexican, of no fixed abode was sentenced to six years for two offences of theft person committed on 7 and 8 July 2014, One count of theft committed on 5 August 2014 is to lie on file.
Luis Adolfo Villatoro Garcia, 30 (14.01.1985) Guatemalan, of no fixed abode was sentenced to two years for theft person on 5 August 2014; Jose Celestino Alfaro, 39 (17.01.1976) Mexican, of no fixed abode was sentenced to two years for theft person on 5 August 2014.
The first offence took place at lunchtime on Wednesday, 26 March 2014. The victim, an 87-year-old man, withdrew £1,000 from Halifax bank, High Street North, Newham, placing the money in his inside jacket pocket.
CCTV shows Rodriguez acting as a lookout whilst two others approach the victim, one distracting him stating he had something on his back, while the other stole the money.
Then, three weeks later, Rodriguez tampered with the tyre of a car in order to steal £29,000 from inside. While the victim, a 72-year-old woman, was withdrawing the cash from Allied Irish Bank on Finchley Road, Camden, Rodriquez is seen on CCTV tampering with the car.
The victim and her colleague returned to the vehicle and placed the cash in her bag, before getting in the car. The colleague, who was the driver, noticed the flat tyre, which he repaired, while the victim stood on the pavement, leaving the bag containing the cash inside. She was distracted by a female, while Rodriguez opened the passenger door and made off with the money.
On 7 July 2014, Hernandez stole £700 from an 80-year-old man after he withdrew the cash from Halifax in High Street, Newham. The victim was approached by a group, including Hernandez, who distracted him stating he had something on his back, while simultaneously stealing the money from his inside pocket.
The following day, Hernandez worked with Rodriguez, this time in New Malden, Kingston, to target a 61 year old woman who had withdrawn £1,280 from HSBC. She returned to her car, placing her bag containing the money on the passenger seat. Seconds later, a female approached the car, stating she had dropped money. While the victim was distracted, the money was stolen.
On 5 August 2014, Alfaro and Garcia used the same distraction technique of dropped money, to steal £2,000 from a 28-year-old woman in High Street, Newham. On this occasion the victim realised she had been duped, and attempted to chase after them, however they both managed to get away.
The last offence in their spree took place on 11 September 2014, in Tooting High Street, Wandsworth. Rodriguez watched the 70 year old woman withdraw £10,000 from the bank and then worked with others, who distracted her by telling her she had paint on her back, while stealing the cash.
The six offences concluded when the four were arrested by the British Transport Police (BTP) on 16 September 2014 in connection with a separate investigation.
Information was shared between BTP and the Metropolitan Police Service Roads and Transport Policing Command, partly funded by Transport for London (TfL), which led to all four being identified as being involved in the six offences between 26 March and 11 September 2014 across the capital.
Hernandez was also linked to an offence committed in 2006 where a bag containing over £260,000 worth of jewellery was stolen in Euston Square London Underground Station. He was sentenced to four years imprisonment at Blackfriars Crown Court on Friday 6 March, which he will serve consecutively.
All of the defendants pleaded guilty in court due to the overwhelming CCTV and evidential material laid before them.
Acting Detective Superintendent John Oldham, Roads and Transport Policing Command, said: "This was an excellent result which has seen a gang of thieves who preyed on the elderly receive significant terms in jail thanks to the partnership of the Roads and Transport Command, TfL, and British Transport Police.
"We have a primary aim to safeguard the travelling public from criminals and to keep them safe whilst using London's transport network.
"I would like to ask the public to help us thwart thieves by ensuring they take personal security precautions when withdrawing large amounts of money from banks and cash points by keeping their money hidden and close to them and always be aware of their surroundings."