A dad-of-four who was short of money travelled from London to Wales to steal nearly £5,000 worth of cigarettes from a cash and carry.
Nicolae Rostas – who was known to police in Wales, Scotland, and England – was identified by an officer in Northumbria and arrested at the Channel Tunnel six months after the theft.
Cardiff Crown Court heard a stock control supervisor at the cash and carry saw the defendant with two women and though their behaviour was “strange”.
The court heard the incident, which lasted for two or three minutes, happened at around 4.15pm on January 9 at Booker Wholesale in Cwmbran.
William Bebb, prosecuting, said the supervisor was on the shop floor when his attention was drawn to the trio.
He decided to check store CCTV which showed the defendant handing packs of cigarettes to the women – who have not been identified.
Mr Bebb said they took cigarettes and tobacco worth £4,598.60 and left without paying. They left in a silver Ford people carrier.
The court heard the manager gave CCTV to the police and an officer in Northumbria was able to identify the defendant on January 14.
Judge Jeremy Jenkins noted Rostas was known to the police in Wales, Scotland, and England.
Six months later, on June 3, he was stopped in Kent at the Channel Tunnel while driving a white BMW. As the officer questioned him about how much cash he was carrying and he noticed Rostas seemed “nervous”.
The officer did not find anything when he searched the car but the Police National Computer showed he was wanted for the theft.
Rostas was arrested and did not reply to the caution. When he was interviewed he said he could not remember what he was doing on the day in question.
Mr Bebb said Rostas had 21 previous offences on his record including fraud, shoplifting, and public disorder.
The 32-year-old, from Ingram Road in Croydon, admitted theft. He denied burglary and that count was ordered to lie on file.
Dhaneshwar Sharma, defending, said his client has four children and committed the offence because he was “short of finances”. He asked for any prison sentence to be suspended instead of immediate.
Judge Jeremy Jenkins found there was a significant degree of planning, adding: “This is serious offending.”
Rostas was sent to prison for 27 months.