TWO men have been jailed for tampering with cash machines to try to steal customers’ money.
Romanians George Ciocan and Tudor Sandu attached a card entrapment device and camera to an ATM in an attempt to stop cash being paid out.
But they were caught out by diligent members of the public who alerted police.
Now Ciocan, who was the ‘prime mover’ and has previous convictions for similar offences, has been jailed for 12 months, with his co-accused locked up for four months.
Prosecutor David Bennett told Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court a customer using the Co-op in High Lane, Burslem, at 3.30pm on February 17 reported a problem with the machine to staff.
Mr Bennett said: "Staff checked the machine and found it had been tampered with. A long plastic strip had been stuck on the machine which had the effect of preventing money being paid out."
CCTV was checked and police identified Ciocan as the man who approached the machine and did something to it.
On February 27 a customer of the Co-operative Bank, Burslem, used the machine to check his balance at 5pm and returned at 6.40pm to withdraw cash.
But when he entered his PIN the machine started to make noises.
Mr Bennett said: "The machine returned his bank card. He examined the ATM and noticed that on one part of the machine there was a plate attached, which came away in his hand.
"He remained at the machine and contacted the police."
The machine was found to have an entrapment device and camera fitted. Officers arrived and noticed Ciocan and Sandu nearby acting suspiciously. They were arrested.
The court heard Sandu had been staying with Ciocan in Haywood Road, Burslem. A sat nav was seized from the property, along with papers containing the postcodes of cash machines in and around Stoke-on-Trent.
Ciocan, aged 31, pleaded guilty to two charges of possession or control of an article for use in fraud. Sandu, aged 32, admitted one offence.
Judge David Fletcher jailed Ciocan for 12 months and Sandu for four months.
Judge Fletcher said: "There was a clear degree of planning reflected by the utilisation of specifically designed equipment to enable you to do what you were trying to do.
"Ciocan, you are clearly the prime mover in this.
"The single most aggravating feature in your case is the sheer persistence that you pursue this type of behaviour."