“I didn’t get enough money from the Belgian government”: asylum seeker risks fifteen months in prison for theft of luxury goods

© © VRT 2011 Ysabel Jongeneelen

Bruges/Ostend/Leuven/Mechelen/Antwerp

A 39-year-old Moldovan risks fifteen months in prison in the Bruges court for a series of shoplifting. He mainly targeted expensive clothes, glasses and shoes.

Arne Franck

Mikhail S. was caught on 15 December last year at Fnac in Bruges. The Moldovan had taken a smartphone worth 500 euros out of the package. The store detective recognized him from two shoplifting the days before. S. then also got away with a tablet and a smartphone. In addition, his trolley contained stolen shoes, perfume, clothing and glasses that he had stolen that same day from Hans Anders, Ici Paris XL and Zara in Ostend.

Further research also linked S. to shoplifting between March and December in Leuven, Mechelen and Antwerp. In total, the man has to answer for thirteen offenses. According to the prosecutor, the man wallowed in a victim role during his interrogation.

Money for two children

“He said that as an asylum seeker he did not receive enough money from the Belgian government,” said prosecutor Fauve Nowé. “In his own words, he had to steal. He mainly targeted luxury goods to resell.”

The man does not dispute the facts. “He realizes it was wrong,” says his lawyer. “He was short of money for his two children. His son has mental problems. Hopefully a prison sentence with a postponement will suffice. My client wants to voluntarily return to Moldova with his family after his release. His asylum procedure has already been stopped.”

The verdict will follow on May 24.

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