How rug was pulled from under maﬁa's carpet ﬁtter
Private eye hired as he laid groundwork for burglars
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In debt: Joseph Schloss
An Israeli mafia boss known only as "Mr Itzig" recruited a carpet fitter to help plan burglaries for him.
Father-of-three Joseph Schloss did as Mr Itzig and his gang said in the hope that they would give him enough money to pay off his gambling debts.
But he came unstuck when he arranged a robbery at the home of a Jewish charity director.
Schloss, 30, acted as a "facilitator" for Mr Itzig's shadowy gang to break into the home of Danny Shine and his wife Michelle Barnett, director of Gift, a charity which encourages young Jews to do volunteering work.
But Schloss was under pressure to repay at least £30,000 that he owed the gang and in September he stole the keys to the Shine family home while taking carpet measurements for them in Hendon, north west London. The next day, burglars stole thousands of pounds of cash and jewellery.
Schloss was jailed for 16 months at Wood Green Crown Court on Tuesday. The court heard how the true extent of his addiction and debts unravelled after he admitted his role in the crime.
During the burglary, a safe that had been fixed to a wall was removed and around £7,000 in cash, including shekels and euros, and a necklace which had belonged to Ms Barnett's grandmother, were stolen.
The money included donations to Gift, which Ms Barnett had taken home for safekeeping.
The family was suspicious of Schloss's involvement and contacted police. But when investigations began, officers discovered a private investigator had already been hired by members of the Orthodox community who had heard about the burglaries.
The investigator made contact with Schloss, who admitted that "an Israeli man" known only as "Mr Itzig" had given him £30,000 to "look after". But the gambling addict had lost the money and the gang had threatened to "put him in a wheelchair".
Schloss later admitted, first to the investigator and then to the police, that he had arranged burglaries and, in the Shine case, had given the gang the keys and told them where in the house the safe could be found.
Later, however, a remorseful Schloss convinced the gang, who have never been identified, to return some of the money and the family's passports, via the private investigator. But the necklace, which was of "great sentimental value", has never been found.
Judge Fraser Morrison was told that Schloss was one of 13 children and had been abused when growing up. His father had wanted him to lead an Orthodox life but Schloss rebelled, stealing the family's money and losing it in casinos. He then racked up debts with the gang. Police believe the Israelis ordered Schloss to feed them details about wealthy Jewish families in north London in return for clearing his debt.
Sentencing him, Judge Morrison said: "I have to bear in mind the effect on Mr and Mrs Shine and their family home being burgled by strangers. They go about their lives apprehensive about their own home, where they should feel safe.
"It is worse than just that. The reason they were burgled was because someone they let in and trusted let them down and gave the key to the burglar."
Schloss, of Elmcroft Crescent, Golders Green, wore a grey suit and black kippah in the dock, but did not speak. He shook his head when details of his crime were read out. He had admitted one charge of conspiracy to burgle at an earlier appearance.
Det Con Chris Marshal of Barnet CID said: "Schloss portrayed himself as a friend of the victims. This enabled him to gain access to their home.
"In fact, he was conspiring with others to betray their trust and steal their cherished belongings, which cannot be replaced. It was gross betrayal."