Prolific burglar who hoarded stolen items in treasure trove jailed

Burgalr Catalin Tircolea, 32, who has been jailed for five years

Burgalr Catalin Tircolea, 32, who has been jailed for five years - Credit: Archant

A prolific burglar who hoarded stolen items in a treasure trove at his home, has been jailed for five years.

Katy Hannah on her wedding day wearing the locket

Katy Hannah on her wedding day wearing the locket - Credit: Archant

Catalin Tircolea, 32, targeted homes across east London and would barricade the front door of his victim’s property to prevent them from gaining entry if they returned.

His house was raided on March 16, when the treasure trove was found by officers and he was arrested.

Officers took pictures of all the item and sent them to potential victims, including Les and Theresa Jones, of Mawney Road, Romford.

The couple were delighted to be reunited with a locket which was of great sentimental value to them as it belonged to a recently deceased relative.

Their daughter Katy Hannah was able to wear the family heirloom on her wedding day with a photo of her grandmother inside.

Police contacted more than 200 potential victims in total, with many more coming forward to collect their stolen belongings.

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Tircolea, of Elgin Road, Ilford, was initially charged with nine burglaries across Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Newham.

Among them were addresses in Cromer Road, Hornchurch, Lawns Way, Romford, Glenwood Drive, Romford and Warrington Gardens, Hornchurch.

In June he was charged with a further seven.

Det Sgt Brett Hagen, of the forensics team based at Barkingside Police Station, said: “It often proves difficult for police to reunite victims with the property they’ve had stolen during burglaries.

“However, Tircolea clearly hoarded all these items giving us the opportunity to return valuable, precious and sentimental property to their rightful owners.

“I would like to thank the extensive and tireless efforts of Det Con Phil Wellington who made the operation such a resounding success.

“Tircolea’s lengthy sentence is a reflection of the gravity and scale of his burglary spree.”

Tircolea was sentenced on Friday at Basildon Crown Court after being charged with 16 counts of burglary and one of conspiracy to commit burglary, which covered 21 more crimes across east London.