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Surrey Police criticised for blurring face of pickpocket caught on video stealing from shopper



Police have been accused of protecting the identity of a pickpocket caught on video stealing from an elderly supermarket shopper.

Iulian Vinatoru, 48, stole from a pensioner at a Waitrose supermarket in West Byfleet, Surrey, on 7 December.

CCTV footage shows him approaching the victim from behind, reaching into his coat pocket and removing what looks like a wallet.

After Vinatoru admitted the offence, Surrey Police issued advice on its Facebook page on how to avoid being targeted by pickpockets.

But in CCTV footage of the crime taking place, Vinatoru’s face was blurred out, causing outrage from those reading the post.

The crime happened at Waitrose in West Byfleet
The thief targeted a Waitrose shopper in West Byfleet, Surrey

Neil Farnham-Smith wrote: “Why blur the face? Shame that individual. Might make them think twice about committing crime in the future.”

“You should show his face. What right does he have to not be recognised?” asked Linda Goodey.

And Karl Wilson said: “Name and shame and a photo.”

Explaining why it had blurred the image, Surrey Police said its “current policy” was that “custody images” were only released when someone had been sentenced to at least a year in prison, “or there is a significant threat to public safety”.

Vinatoru, from Leicester, was arrested at the store after being stopped by a security guard.

He pleaded guilty to the offence at Guildford Magistrates’ Court last week and was fined £280, ordered to pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £30.

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