Five men arrested on suspicion of plotting to kidnap singer Victoria Beckham were charged Monday with theft and conspiring to rob Sotheby’s auction house, police said.
Scotland Yard said inquiries were continuing into the alleged plan to kidnap Victoria Beckham, the Spice Girl wife of England soccer captain David Beckham, for a reported 5 million pound (US$7.75 million) ransom.
Nine people were arrested after a Sunday newspaper said undercover reporters had discovered the kidnap plot.
Kosovo-born Azem Krifsha, 30; London-born Joseph Rivas, 24; and Rusu Sorin, 31 and originally from Romania, were charged with theft and handling of a jeweled turban worth 60,000 pounds (US$93,000) belonging to Sotheby’s.
Two other Romanian men – Adrian Razvan Pasareanu, 28, and Alin Turcu, 18 – were charged with conspiracy to rob an employee of Sotheby’s.
The five, all London residents, appeared at Horseferry Road Magistrates Court and were ordered held in custody until their next court appearance on Nov. 11.
A private news agency in Romania, Mediafax, reported that Adrian Razvan Pasareanu is a doctor who recently graduated from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Craiova, a city in southern Romania. He graduated at the top of his class and was known as a hardworking student.
He came to Britain six months ago for a residency and specialized training. His neighbors say he never had anything to do with any criminals and do not understand the association of his name with the suspected kidnapping, Mediafax said.
Seven men and two women were arrested in police raids late Saturday and early Sunday, after the News of the World newspaper tipped off police.
The tabloid said its reporters had infiltrated a gang of Romanian and Albanian kidnappers who planned to ambush Victoria Beckham in front of her home north of London and use a chemical spray to sedate her and her sons Brooklyn and Romeo, if they were with her.
One of the woman arrested over the weekend has been released without charge while two men and a woman have been released on bail on unrelated charges.
David Beckham, who plays for England’s national soccer team and Manchester United, is one of Britain’s biggest sports stars and the Beckhams are among the country’s most popular celebrities.
The News of the World quoted Victoria Beckham – also known as Posh Spice of chart-topping group the Spice Girls – as saying she was stunned by the allegations.
“It’s clear these people were serious and that, of course, has scared the life out of me…. I’m in absolute and total shock,” she reportedly said.
David Beckham said Sunday he was reviewing his family’s security arrangements.
“The first role of a father and husband is to keep his family safe,” the soccer star said in a statement.