A man charged as the suspect behind a string of shop and vehicle number plate thefts over a five-month span opted to remain silent throughout his arraignment on Monday afternoon. 

Gruevski Vasko, also known to Maltese authorities as Asen Georgiev Ivanov, a 32-year-old Macedonian national with no fixed address in Malta, was tracked down as the suspect behind the series of thefts, the value of which reached around €150,000, which started in June. 

Assisted by an interpreter and a legal aid lawyer, the accused chose not to answer any of the questions put to him by way of normal procedure concerning his personal details and whether he was pleading guilty or not. 

No reply in such circumstances is taken as a "not guilty" plea. 

The prosecution pressed a raft of charges allegedly linking the accused to 11 thefts targeting shops in Valletta, Sliema, Qormi, Mellieha and Naxxar.

Eyewear, mobile phones, laptops and other electronic equipment and cash were reported stolen. 

Three other thefts involved the number plates of three motorcycles, a Piaggio Vespa in Ħamrun, a Kymco Agility Carry in Sliema and an SYM Symphony, also in Sliema. 

Other charges related to five attempted thefts as well as wilful damage to third-party property. 

The accused was also charged with making a false declaration to a public authority, possessing false documents for immigration purposes as well as making use of such false documents.

He was also charged with driving without a licence and third-party insurance cover as well as being a relapser. 

The accused had apparently fled his homeland and was living in Malta under a false identity. 

His legal aid lawyer, Christopher Chircop, did not request bail and the court, presided over by Magistrate Abigail Critien, remanded the accused in custody. 

AG lawyer Kevin Valletta prosecuted together with Inspectors Joseph Mercieca, Lydon Zammit and Christina Delia. 

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