A gang of professional thieves who travelled the country stealing high value items from shops and supermarkets have been allowed to remain in the UK, after a judge ruled she was unable to deport them.
One of the Romanian men has previously been returned to his homeland under a voluntary deportation after serving a prison sentence for thefts in the UK.
Preston Crown Court heard stealing had become a “way of life” for the group.
The court saw CCTV which showed Ica Angel, 19, and Nikolai Anghel, 23, of Clough Road, Rotherham, and Sabina Munteanu, 21, and Castel Munteanu, 25, of Ermington Crescent, Birmingham enter Booths in Sharoe Green Lane in Fulwood.
The four had travelled to Preston by car.
In a professional operation, they huddled around Sabina Munteanu - who has the least convictions of the group, to hide bottles of cognac in her baggy clothing.
When she was stopped by the store detective, the other three drove away and were later stopped in Bolton.
The four, who have more than 50 convictions of theft between them in towns and cities across the country, have been behind bars since their arrest following the Fulwood theft on December 21.
Judge Heather Lloyd said she could not deport the four as their sentences were shorter than 12 months but said any future sentencing judge would look at the issue, should they return to court.
She said: “Shoplifting has become a way of life for you. That may be in part because you have not registered or obtained a national insurance number which would allow you to obtain benefits but none of you was shoplifting out of desperation.”
Castel Munteanu was jailed for 35 weeks, the others for 24 weeks each.