Notorious career criminal jailed for stealing $130,000 bike in sophisticated heist
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One of New Zealand's most infamous career criminals is back behind bars after stealing a limited edition $130,000 motorcycle in a "highly-sophisticated" heist.
Ricardo Romanov, who also goes by the name of Ricardo Sandd, was found guilty of burglary at an Auckland District Court trial in August and was today jailed for seven years.
His latest term of imprisonment means the 64-year-old will have served nearly 40 years behind bars by the time he is released.
Romanov's colourful reputation came after being convicted of multiple gunpoint robberies, including stealing an $8 million Tissot masterpiece from Auckland Art Gallery in 1998.
He escaped at high speed on a motorbike and was eventually found in a Waikato home wearing a wig to disguise his identity, with the priceless artwork rolled up under a bed.
In 1984 he was also one of two men convicted of New Zealand's biggest robbery at the time when $294,529 was taken from an Armourguard van at the Foodtown supermarket in Birkenhead.
Career criminal Ricardo Romanov was jailed for seven years. Photo / Rob Kidd
His latest indiscretion came on May 4, 2013, not long after being released from prison.
The court heard how Romanov spent much time planning the hit, which including using various websites to track down the owners of an extremely rare 2008 Ducati Desmosedici.
He used his home computer and one in the Pukekohe public library, police found.
Judge Charles Blackie described the limited-edition vehicle as "a mechanical work of art" owned by only the most ardent motorcycle enthusiasts.
Fewer than 10 had been imported to New Zealand.
Once Romanov found an owner, he researched the rural Waitaoki address - half an hour north of Auckland - to get the layout of the property.
But the premeditation did not end there.
When police raided his house they found detailed diagrams and engineering specifications as well as commercial paint removers they believed Romanov had used to strip the bike.
The 64-year-old's plan was undone after a balaclava was found at the scene of the burglary, which featured his DNA.
Judge Blackie called it an "overwhelming prosecution case".
He rejected the defence case that it was a simple burglary.
"I can't accept this was run of the mill," the judge said. "This was a highly-sophisticated burglary as one might expect of you as you've carried out so many sophisticated crimes in the past."
Romanov declined to be interviewed by probation before sentencing, which Judge Blackie said reflected his lack of contrition.
"Normally people express something by way of remorse, some form of apology but I've heard nothing of that from you," he said.
The judge was also unimpressed with Romanov standing in court with his jacket over his head and demanded he uncover his face.
"I like my privacy," the defendant said.
Romanov's accomplice, who drove him to the Waitoki address, was earlier sentenced to 250 hours community work but Judge Blackie said his role was minor compared to the career criminal.
"When I look it at, it's rather like were the captain of the football team whereas your off-sider was simply the ball boy," he said.
For the protection of the public, Judge Blackie imposed a minimum non-period of three and a half years and was sceptical of Romanov's potential to change.
"In all likelihood - with a history stretching back to the 1970s - this might not be the end of the line," he said.
The Ducati superbike has never been found.