THREE members of a shoplifters' gang that travelled from Liverpool to stage a large-scale raid on York Designer Outlet shops have been jailed.

A fourth, Anne-Marie Raducanu, 37, who hid so many clothes in her underwear police initially thought she was pregnant, is on the run.

She attended York Magistrates Court but fled before the case was called on.

Jane Chadwick, prosecuting, said the four had expandable knickers to hold their loot and equipment to fool anti-thief protection devices in stores.

Officers had been on the look-out for the Vauxhall Astra on November 16 and set a trap when they spotted it in the outlet's car park.

They watched the gang going back and forth from the car and one of the gang change her appearance before returning to the shopping area.

Then they surrounded the car and arrested the quartet as they drove out of the car park with £5,000 of stolen designer wear.

District judge Adrian Lower said the designer outlet had become an "important magnet" for thieves like the gang.

"It is my intention, yet again, to attempt to send a very strong message," he said. "If people want to come stealing here, then there is a price to be paid for people who get caught doing just that."

Alexandru Cosmin Nita, 30, who has Spanish convictions for theft, Gabriella Nita, 26, who has a UK caution for theft, and Petrisor Barbieru, 40, all of the same address in Ellel Grove, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to having criminal property and going equipped for theft.

Raducanu pleaded guilty to the same offences and admitted breaching a conditional discharge for theft through her solicitor.

Gabriella Nita pleaded guilty to driving the Astra without insurance.

Raducanu was given a 30-week sentence to be served when she is arrested on a warrant issued by the district judge.

She was banned from driving for 71 weeks.

The rest were jailed for 26 weeks and banned from driving for 65 weeks.

The car, which doesn't have a registered keeper, will be destroyed.

Steve Munro for Barbieru said he had fallen in with the wrong crowd after coming to the UK to look for work.

Liam Hassan for Alexandru Nita said he had no UK convictions.

For Gabriella Nita, Patrick O'Hanlon said she had been recruited because she held a Romanian licence.