A family of Bulgarian pickpockets who stole more than £100,000 from Tube and bus passengers across London are set to be sent home at taxpayers’ expense to spend their profits.
Nicolay Filipov led the gang, who operated from his rented home in Manor House. Up to 10 thieves pooled their plunder and transferred it back to Bulgaria to fund property ventures.
Southwark crown court heard that the gang are now “desperate” to go home. Judge Stephen Robbins told them: “You are not only not opposed to a recommendation for deportation but you urge the court to make such recommendations so you can be returned to Bulgaria.”
He imposed jail sentences of up to 12 months, but the gang, who admitted transferring criminal property, are set to be freed in days because of time served on remand, when they will get their wish to be deported.
Filipov was arrested last year over an insurance fraud but jumped bail and fled to Bulgaria. A raid on his £1,000-a-month home found a Tube map marked with “pickpocketing hotspots” including Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush.
His daughters Elene, 23, and Silviya, 24; their respective husbands Georgi Nikolov, 23, and Georgi Petkov, 18; Filipov’s son Zlatko Nikolov, 18, and a woman friend, Nedka Stanova, 20, were arrested in December. Police found that the gang had sent at least £100,000 to Bulgaria.
Detective constable Jerry Meek, of British Transport Police, said outside court: “There are groups who come to this country purely to engage in crime like this. They often target vulnerable people, such as the elderly and tourists.”