A More4 reporting team had its footage confiscated by a Romanian gang while investigating the use of stolen UK money in the eastern European country.
The team, led by Channel 4 News producer Katie Brown, was filming houses in the Romanian town of Tandarei that it had reason to believe were built with stolen UK money.
As it filmed from a car window, the team was forced to stop by a group of eight men, two of whom had knives. The gang took the C4 news footage and let the team move on, but then stopped them again, taking them to the local police station.
While there, Brown was able to contact British police officers who were in Bucharest as part of a criminal investigation into what they estimate is around £15m of stolen money from the UK that has been invested in more than100 properties in the country.
‘Although the British officers were miles away in Bucharest, they managed to get word out about our situation and a team of Romanian national police was quickly deployed,’said Brown.
Meanwhile, the local police had escorted the journalists out of the town, only to be met by the chief of police for the county, who asked them if they wanted to press charges. The C4 team declined, but asked for the film footage to be returned, which it was.
Brown said the gang had taken the C4 team was because it thought the newsgatherers were spying for another gang.
‘There are six gangs operating in Tandarei and there’s an agreement that none of them cross into each other’s patch,’she said. ‘But two years ago one of the gangs got two of its members to pose as journalists to get into one of the houses and beat up the owner. They thought we were there for a repeat attack.”
The ordeal came as part of a More4 investigation that revealed that since Romania joined the EU in January this year, crimes committed in the UK by known Romanians have increased by 700 per cent.
The figures obtained by More4 News via a Freedom of Information request showed that between January to June 2006 there were 135 crimes committed in the UK by Romanians, but in the same period this year that figure had risen to almost 1,100.