Two Bulgarian thieves from London have been jailed for stealing barrels of cooking oil from a pub in a village on the Norfolk Broads. 

Dimitar Shopov, 43, and Atanas Mihaylov, 30, admitted being behind the theft from The Kings Arms in Ludham.

It comes after police warned businesses to remain vigilant amid thefts of cooking oil with restaurants, pubs, chip shops and even Norfolk schools and supermarkets being targeted.

A steep rise in prices has fuelled the black market in heating and cooking oil with organised criminal gangs travelling long distances.

READ MORE: Cooking oil thefts prompts urgent warning by police

The two Bulgarian nationals, who both gave the same address in the New Barnet area of north London, appeared at Norwich Magistrates' Court in custody after being transported from HMP Pentonville.

The pair had both jailed on remand at Highbury Magistrates’ Court after an arrest warrant was issued when they failed to appear at a previous hearing.  

Eastern Daily Press:

Shopov, who claimed in court not to know his own date of birth, pleaded guilty to theft and breach of bail conditions. 

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Mihaylov, who also faces separate offences in Leicestershire, initially pleaded not guilty to stealing the oil.

Annette Hall, mitigating, had told the court that he denied any involvement in the theft and that he had been “misidentified”. 

However he subsequently changed his mind and pleaded guilty after being told by Deputy District Judge Sundeep Pankhania he would otherwise be remanded until a trial in March.   

READ MORE: Bulgarian cooking oil gang targeted Norwich supermarket

Prosecutor Lesla Small told the court they had stolen cooking oil worth £92 from outside the village pub on October 24 last year. 

Both men were jailed for five days for breaching bail and one day for theft but told time served in custody meant they would be released.

Last March another Bulgarian gang from London were convicted of theft after being caught red-handed as they tried to steal barrels of cooking oil from Morrisons in Norwich in broad daylight.

The court heard they were paid a modest amount to travel the country to carry out thefts.