A man has been jailed for his part in the theft of £16,000 worth of champagne and spirits from supermarkets in Ipswich and across East Anglia.

Alexandru Cercel, of Homestead Road in Dagenham, and his gang targeted large supermarket chains between October 2021 and June this year.

Sometimes the gang would return to the same supermarket five times a day, stealing up to £3,000 worth of alcohol on each visit. 

In total, it is believed that the gang that Cercel operated within stole a total of £34,500 from supermarkets across the East of England, £16,000 of which was from locations in Suffolk, including Ipswich and Beccles, and Norfolk.

Cercel was arrested at Dover docks when he was trying to leave the country as a wanted man on July 1 this year. 

The 39-year-old helped the Norfolk and Suffolk policing teams investigating the thefts, and he admitted to 26 more crimes.

Of those, nine offences were committed in Norfolk, and seven in Suffolk, accounting for the £16,000 worth of stolen alcohol.

Cercel appeared before Canterbury Crown Court on Friday, November 17 for sentencing, and was given two years in jail for crimes spanning between October 4, 2021, and June 13, 2023.

The judge said the thefts were likely to fund other criminal enterprises and that the method used indicated "highly organised and planned offending".

The court gave him credit for admitting to the offences, which showed remorse and saved the various police forces time investigating.

Duncan Etchells, supervisor of the Norfolk Operation Converter TIC Unit, said: “We will always do all we can to bring serious organised criminals such as Cercel to justice.

"By investigating him as we did, a large number of high-value retail thefts were put before the court and we welcome this sentence as retail crime on this scale impacts all the customers of the affected stores."