A pair of professional shoplifters have been told to repay much of the fortune they made from fleecing designer stores of hundreds of thousands of pounds of goods.
Police discovered an ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of top of the range clothing, perfumes and handbags from stores such as Harvey Nichols and Louis Vuitton when they raided the home of the Hoang brothers in Chapeltown, Leeds.
A court heard brothers Steven, 22, and Simon, 23, made vast amounts of money selling the goods on eBay or returning them to stores for gift vouchers or credit notes.
The brothers were trusted customers with many exclusive stores in Leeds and even had their own personal shopper. The brother’s mother, Thi, 57 – a prolific shoplifter who has 13 different aliases – also took part in the thefts.
The pair were jailed for three years and Thi for 12 months in May last year after they all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to convert criminal property.
A judge yesterday (Sept 5) ruled that Steven and Simon, each benefitted to the tune of £131,000 from their four-year deception at a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Steven was ordered to repay £87,172 and Simon £86,625.
The court heard the pair transferred large amounts of cash from their bank accounts in the UK to accounts in Vietnam shortly after being arrested in 2008.
The brothers gave evidence at an earlier hearing in which they claimed not to have any assets, after spending all of their ill-gotten gains.
Steven claimed he had blown £10,000 on lavish hotels on a trip to the USA but was unable to provide proof of the journey. Simon claimed he had splashed on a luxury despite the DVLA having no record of him owning a vehicle.
Judge Hickey said he found the pair’s evidence unbelievable and ordered them to pay the amounts within six months or face a further 21 month sentence.
After his arrest, Simon taunted a police officer, telling him he made more in a week than he did in a year.