Brave victims turned detectives to snare Covid lockdown burglars who targeted 68 elderly & vulnerable people

Dobroslav Gabor and Marek Balog have been jailed for 68 burglaries in Birmingham and across the West Midlands
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Two of Britain’s ‘most wanted’ burglars have been jailed for more than 30 years after targeting 68 elderly and vulnerable people in Birmingham and across the West Midlands.

Dobroslav Gabor and Marek Balog committed 68 burglaries during the height of the Covid lockdowns - between July 23 and November 7, 2020.

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During their four-month crime spree, the pair preyed on vulnerable homeowners across Birmingham, Sandwell and Walsall. One of the pair’s most violent crimes took place after Gabor, 26, was released from court following being arrested for burglary.

What happened during the burglaries carried out by Dobroslav Gabor and Marek Balog?

Birmingham Crown Court heard Gabor and Balog brazenly walked into people’s homes and climbed through windows which had been left open. They also posed as workmen and offered services such as cleaning driveways to gain access to people’s properties. Once they were inside, the pair stole money, bank cards, electrical items and jewellery before fleeing on foot.

Gabor was arrested in October, 2020, after a woman saw him using her bank card in a shop in Handsworth, after it was stolen in a burglary. He was charged with burglary at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court and released on bail but he and Balog continued to break into peoples’ homes.

They also stole money from the pocket of a man who was asleep in his home in the Lozells area of Birmingham. The pair also raided the house of a deaf man, who was unable to hear them smashing their way inside. They also targeted a Birmingham Muslim temple on two occasions.

Covid lockdown burglars Dobroslav Gabor and Marek Balog targeted 68 elderly & vulnerable people in Birmingham & West MidlandsCovid lockdown burglars Dobroslav Gabor and Marek Balog targeted 68 elderly & vulnerable people in Birmingham & West Midlands
Covid lockdown burglars Dobroslav Gabor and Marek Balog targeted 68 elderly & vulnerable people in Birmingham & West Midlands
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While on bail, Gabor and Balog, 43, barged into the home of a vulnerable 81-year-old man in West Bromwich after finding his door had been left open for carers. When the man asked them why they were in his home they beat him to the ground and threatened him with a knife.

They stole money from his pockets and prized his wedding ring, which he had worn for nearly 60 years, from his finger. When the elderly victim pressed his emergency alarm for help Gabor and Balog locked him in a room and unplugged his phone line before fleeing. The man was later found and was rushed to hospital but his health deteriorated and he has since died.

How victims helped to snare Dobroslav Gabor and Marek Balog

The pair were finally nailed after their victims and their neighbours pieced together evidence which identified them. They even managed to get hold of Balog’s ID card which they sent to police.

Gabor left fingerprints at the scene of a burglary which matched those on the police database following a knife offence earlier in 2020. With two named suspects, officers launched a social media appeal to track them down.

What did West Midlands Police do to stop the crime spree?

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Following the spate of burglaries, West Midlands Police launched a major manhunt and released pictures of Gabor and Balog on social media.

Days later Balog was arrested while he burgled a house in Cheshire and Gabor was snared at his property in Windermere Road, Birmingham. Police bodycam footage shows him hiding under a fence panel in his back garden while pleading his innocence.

Gabor later pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated burglary and conspiracy to commit 67 burglaries and was jailed for 16 years in May. Balog admitted the same offences and was jailed for 14 years and 10 months on Tuesday (October 17).

The arrest of Dobroslav GaborThe arrest of Dobroslav Gabor
The arrest of Dobroslav Gabor

What have the victims said about the violent crimes of Dobroslav Gabor and Marek Balog against vulnerable people?

After the sentencing hearing at Birmingham Crown Court, the son of the 81-year-old man, said: "I am glad some proper justice has been had. It is a shame that my dad isn’t around to hear this as he would have been really happy with this."

Detectives react to the jailing of Dobroslav Gabor and Marek Balog

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Detective Constable Suzie Doidge, who led the investigation at West Midlands Police, said: “Gabor and Balog targeted people in their homes at a time when the country was under huge lockdown restrictions, meaning their homes were their safe haven.

“But these men broke in and took that from them. They stole their prized possessions, sentimental items and made people really fearful to sleep in their own beds.

“This was such a complex job, with so many offences and different strands, I am so pleased to finally see these two men being jailed for their crimes. When your home is broken into, it leaves such a devastating lasting effect on people.

“I want to thank all of our victims and the wider public for their co-operation and I hope that this outcome provides some comfort to the families I have worked so closely with over the last few years.”