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Last Updated: Friday, 20 April 2007, 17:22 GMT 18:22 UK
Jail for parking meter raiders
Two refugees who were part of an Eastern European gang stealing cash from parking meters have been each jailed for nine months.

Antonio Nia, 21 and Shpetim Bujaj, 25, were seen emptying one parking meter after another in Westminster, jurors at Southwark Crown Court heard.

After two hours the pair bagged £3,500 in £1 and 20p coins in January.

Both pleaded guilty to one count of going equipped for theft and one of possessing criminal property.

Organised gangs

All the cash had been bagged up, ready for those masterminding one of the "sophisticated" networks responsible for multi-million pound losses recently suffered by the City of Westminster, the court heard.

Judge Christopher Elwen told them: "There has been a spate of thefts by organised gangs from parking meters in the City of Westminster. In fact over £2.5 million has been wrongfully taken from the machines.

"The Metropolitan Police have been so concerned they have deployed squads of undercover officers in an attempt to halt this organised and sophisticated operation.

"It seems to me that you have both been recruited as foot soldiers in these carefully organised deprivations.

"It is a sad fact of life that it is the foot soldiers who tend to get arrested and brought before the courts."


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