“YORK is closed to shop thieves,” the city’s district judge declared as he locked up a gang of shoplifters.

He heard the four had travelled together from Sheffield to McArthur Glen Designer Outlet south of York and had a device to remove security tags from clothes.

Simon Ostler, prosecuting, said when police arrested the group in the shopping centre car park, they had clothes and watches from brand names worth nearly £1,000, all stolen that day.

None of the four had any previous convictions.

“It (the Designer Outlet) is plagued by people like you who come to steal,” said district judge Adrian Lower, at the city’s magistrates court.

“It was a pre-planned operation and you had a tool. That demonstrates this was a professional enterprise.

“York has quite enough thieves without other people travelling to the area to join in.

“York is not a place to go stealing. York is closed to shop thieves.”

He jailed Alex Ciobanu, 22, Elena Ghica, 24, and Adrian Staicu, 25, all of Keeper’s Close, Sheffield, for 24 weeks. All three admitted six charges of shop theft.

Marius Daniel Prodanese, 25, of Hamilton Road, Sheffield, who admitted three charges of shop theft, was jailed for 12 weeks.

Ghica started crying and had to sit down as sentence was passed.

She had told the court she had to return to Romania on May 29 because she was in the last year of a university course.

Mr Ostler said staff at the designer outlet spotted the quartet behaving suspiciously on CCTV cameras on March 4, and called in police.

They were arrested in a car on the car park.

Prodanese had the detagger and together the thieves had Hugo Boss clothes worth £177, Calvin Klein clothes worth £197, items from Superdry worth £233.99, £86 of clothes from Levis, watches worth £165 from Fossil, and clothes from Tommy Hilfiger to an unknown value.

For Ciobanu and Prodanese, Liam Hassan said they had a poorly paid job on a zero hours contract that left them £100 a week to live on.

“That may be an explanation for these offences,” he said.

“They are genuinely remorseful.”

Staicu, who represented himself, said he was sorry.

The district judge said many people in York found it difficult to make ends meet, but did not resort to theft.