Man admits raiding East Devon churches in crime spree

Exeter Crown Court.

Exeter Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A Romanian vagrant has admitted raiding 11 churches to finance a three month summer holiday in Devon and Dorset.

Mahaita Rosca started his crime spree in Weymouth and moved down the coast to Devon where he lived rough and survived by breaking into churches all around the county.

He started in Exeter before moving through Crediton, Torrington, Tavistock, Newton Abbot, Teignmouth, Exmouth and Sidmouth.

He targeted money but also stole projectors, DVD players, and computers. He ended his spree by raiding a cafe and golf centre in Teignmouth.

Rosca sold some of the stolen items but hid others and promised to help police to find them when he appeared at Exeter Crown Court.

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Homeless Rosca, aged 26, from Shrewsbury, admitted 13 burglaries in Devon and Dorset and asked for three more in East Anglia to be taken into consideration.

Judge Timothy Rose adjourned the case until July 20 to allow time for him to help police recover the missing church property.

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He told him: “It is obvious that you are certain to receive a prison sentence of some length. It may be if you are able to help the police recover some of the stolen property, that will be taken into consideration in precisely how long the sentence will be.”

The 12 burglaries started between June 20 and 23, 2017, when he broke into and stole cash from St John’s in Weymouth.

In the next three weeks he broke into:

St Michael and All Angels, Exeter, and stole a projector;

St Thomas in Exeter, where he stole a hard drive;

Holy Cross in Crediton, where he left empty handed;

The Methodist Church in Torrington, where he stole a projector and DVD player;

The Catholic Church in Tavistock, where he stole cash;

St Andrews Church, Newton Abbot, where he stole cash;

St Michael’s Church, Teignmouth, where he stole an iPod air;

Holy Trinity Church, Exmouth, where he stole a wheelchair, monitor, camera, and laptop;

St Giles and St Nicholas, Sidmouth, where he stole a projector and cash;

Beachcomber Cafe, Teignmouth, where he stole two iPads, an iPod, and cash.

The final burglary was at Adventure Golf in Teignmouth between September 19 and 22 last year.

Mr Paul Grumbar, defending, said Rosca is Romanian but has a working understanding of English.

He said:”He tells me the cash was spent but some of the other property was hidden. He has asked for the opportunity to tell the police where it is and says it is recoverable.”

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