Jewel heist

A HUSBAND and wife team of “travelling thieves” from Melbourne were arrested after the heist of a $20,000 diamond ring from a Mildura jewellery store, a court has been told.

Lilliana Rascovici, 43, and her husband Christian, 33, were refused bail at Mildura Magistrates’ Court yesterday after their arrest in Red Cliffs just hours after the alleged theft on Tuesday.

Mr Rascovici, who was on bail for similar offences at the time, told the court some of his behaviour would not have been considered illegal in his home country of Romania.

Mr Rascovici is facing charges including theft and breach of bail, while his wife was arrested on outstanding warrants and is yet to be charged over the jewellery theft.

Police were granted permission by the court to take a sample of her DNA and compare it to items left at the scene of the ring theft.

Mrs Rascovici did not apply for bail while her husband opted to make a self-represented bail application.

Giving evidence to the hearing, informant detective Senior Constable James Oriel said the duo, from Narre Warren and with no ties to the area, went to Thomas Jewellers in Langtree Avenue about 2.10pm on Tuesday.

He said Mr Rascovici asked to look at a number of rings, before giving all but the most expensive diamond ring, worth almost $20,000, back to staff.

Sen-Constable Oriel said Mrs Rascovici left, while her husband remained in the store. 

Mr Rascovici became nervous and told the sales assistant he needed to go to the bank, before handing over a cheap replacement ring and taking off with the $20,000 ring, the court heard.

A woman tried to chase the man while bystanders also gave chase, Sen-Constable Oriel said, before Mr Rascovici was picked up in a car being driven by his wife.

A witness was able to take down the number plate of the getaway car, the court heard, and the duo was intercepted and arrested by police about 4.20pm in Red Cliffs.

Sen-Constable Oriel said police believed the couple were “professional travelling thieves” who operated as part of a wider group. 

Mr Rascovici said he put his checkered history down to his gambling problems and fighting with his wife due to their age difference.

He claimed that in his home country of Romania, much of his behaviour was not illegal.

Magistrate Bruce Cottrell, via video link from Bendigo, refused Mr Rascovici bail.

“He remains in my view a substantial unacceptable risk,” he said.

Both accused were remanded in custody and will appear before Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on January 25.

For more of this story, purchase your copy of Thursday's Sunraysia Daily 05/01/2017.

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