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Robert Alexe and Elena Efta jailed for organised gang work to steal from Morrisons supermarkets – after being identified in Fakenham

A man and a woman have been jailed for working as part of an organised gang travelling across England and Wales to steal more than £60,000 worth of stock from Morrisons supermarkets.

The duo were eventually caught after being identified while stealing printer ink from a store in Fakenham.

Robert Alexe, 24, and Elena Efta, 35, were part of a shoplifting gang which targeted the chain – often making off with more than £1,000 worth of high-value products at a time.

The Morrisons supermarket in Fakenham, where the duo were caught after stealing printer ink. Picture: Google Maps
The Morrisons supermarket in Fakenham, where the duo were caught after stealing printer ink. Picture: Google Maps

However, their spree came to an end in on May 2 this year when a security guard at the Fakenham store noticed a large amount of printer ink had gone missing.

Using CCTV footage, he was able to identify the suspects and warn colleagues at the Dereham store that the offenders would likely target them next.

Efta and Alexe were subsequently intercepted by store security and arrested in Dereham on suspicion of going equipped to steal.

Robert Alexe. Picture: Norfolk Police
Robert Alexe. Picture: Norfolk Police

Investigations revealed the incident was part of a nationwide series – and the suspects were identified as being involved in 47 known thefts from 26 different counties.

Norfolk Police officers working with Rachel Gillett from Morrisons Retail Crime Hub and multiple police forces were able to gather evidence, including analysis of CCTV to link them with the numerous other thefts spanning Yorkshire, Wales, Humberside, Sussex and Norfolk.

Following his arrest in Norfolk, Alexe’s home on Ardea Court, Coventry was searched by West Midlands Police. Almost £9,000 worth of goods were discovered, including items such as sun creams, beard trimmers, chewing gum, and wipes.

A search of the car parked at Dereham recovered some £2,000 worth of stock.

Elena Efta. Picture: Norfolk Police
Elena Efta. Picture: Norfolk Police

Efta, of Mapperley Drive, Northampton, and Alexe were subsequently re-arrested for the further crimes and remanded in custody on June 27.

While in prison they were investigated further by Norfolk’s Operation Converter Unit, which encourages offenders to admit to further crimes which can be taken into consideration at sentencing.

This led to a further 22 thefts being detected.

The duo appeared at Norwich Crown Court for sentencing yesterday (November 23).

Efta admitted seven thefts and one count of going equipped. Her charged offences accounted for £12,064 worth of goods stolen between October 12, 2022 and May 17 this year.

She asked for eight other offences to be taken into consideration, totalling £8,723 worth of goods stolen from Morrisons between October 12 last year and June 24 this year.

Alexe pleaded guilty to 14 high value thefts, one charge of going equipped and one of possessing criminal property. His charged offences accounted for £27,903 of the total and took place between January 26 and May 18 this year.

He asked for 14 more offences to be taken into consideration worth £25,168 which took place between February 2 and April 22.

Efta was subsequently jailed for 18 months, and Alexe for 27 months.

Following their sentencing, Operation Converter supervisor Duncan Etchells said: “They were first identified as being active in October 2022 and spent months travelling around the UK working together to steal from Morrisons.

“Their operation unravelled after they were stopped by store security in Norfolk. Following extensive research by PC Luke Brown and Rachel Gillett of Morrisons analysing CCTV and closely plotting their movements we have been able to bring these people to justice for all their offending.”

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