Royal Mile pickpockets who targeted Edinburgh tourists jailed

The head of a hospitality body has warned Holyrood that a tourist tax would be discriminatory. Picture: Ian Rutherford
The head of a hospitality body has warned Holyrood that a tourist tax would be discriminatory. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A pickpocket and his accomplice who preyed on unsuspecting tourists in the Royal Mile over the summer have been jailed.

Gheorghita Asmarandi, 49, stole more than £2,000 in cash, passports and a wallet from three sightseers between June and August.

The Romanian national was jailed for 30 weeks at Edinburgh Sheriff Court after admitting the thefts and will be deported after completing his sentence.

His sidekick Iolanda Cantonistru, 29, was sent down for 80 days and will also be deported on release after pleading guilty to one charge.

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Sergeant George Liddle from the West End Police Station said: “The Festival is an exciting time to be in Edinburgh.

“It is unfortunate that there are some in our city who will target members of the public as they enjoy everything that the capital has to offer at this time of the year.”

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Police swooped on Asmarandi and Cantonistru after three tourists were pickpocketed as they visited the Capital’s top attractions.

Asmarandi stole £1,800 cash from one of his victims at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Castlehill on June 13.

A week later, on June 20, another visitor had their wallet and contents lifted by Asmarandi in the Queen’s Gallery at Holyrood Palace.

Then on August 5 both Asmarandi and Cantonistru took £800 cash, passports and a stash of foreign currency from a sightseer at Edinburgh Castle.

The light-fingered duo prompted a warning from police for festival goers and tourists to be alert.

“We would ask that the public remain vigilant and ensure that all valuables are kept safe and secure whilst out and about,” said Sgt Liddle.

“Do not take large sums of cash out in public, and when carrying money make sure purses and wallets are kept in a zipped inside pocket.

“All bags should be closed and where possible shoulder and hand bags should be worn in front of you, against your body.”

Police attributed the arrest, charging and ultimate conviction last week of Asmarandi and Cantonistru to their annual seasonal work.

“As part of Operation Summer City, the public will see high-visibility patrols in busy areas and officers are on hand to offer advice to people and respond to any issues should they occur,” said Sgt Liddle.

City centre Tory Councillor Joanna Mowat also praised the summer-long operation.

“We all know large crowds are attractive to all sorts of people, including people who want to do wrong,” she said.

“It’s welcome to see Summer City be effective in bringing these people to justice and securing a conviction.”

Anyone with concerns regarding pickpocketing activity should report this to Police Scotland via 101, or to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.