THE delighted owner of a South Tyneside business who contemplated shutting up shop after a break-in has been given ‘new hope’ after police captured the culprit.
Stephen Smith, of St Jude’s Terrace, in South Shields, was jailed for four months after stealing sex toys and isobutyl nitrite – commonly called poppers – during a raid at Secret Fantasies Lingerie in Boldon Lane, South Shields.
The hapless burglar had left behind behind a trail of blood after smashing a window to gain entrance to the store on September 10.
Shop owner Lynne Thompson found the blood on a tissue behind the store counter and police swiftly carried out tests to match the blood sample with 48-year-old Smith, leading to his arrest.
Ms Thompson found out the criminal had been caged after reading the front page story of his court case in the Gazette this week.
The 49-year-old who has run the family firm for seven years along with daughter Holly Thompson and sister Donna Thompson said: “I thought it was brilliant. It’s really good news. I can’t fault the police at all they were absolutely spot-on.
“They were very thorough.
“It was really shocking when the break-in happened. We were thinking about closing the shop and moving on. But the police catching the offender so quickly has given me new hope. It was like CSI South Shields.
“I want to thank them for everything they have done.”
Ms Thompson says about £180 of goods were taken during the break-in last month, while she is still awaiting the cost of replacing the broken window.
Ms Thomson has also hailed the close-knit community for rallying round at a time of need.
She added: “We have a lot of regular customers who all came in to check how we were. Even people just passing by came in to ask if we were OK.
“We do feel part of the community. We were surprised by how much support we had.”
Smith pleaded guilty to the charge of burglary at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on Monday.
He had been given an eight-week sentence, suspended for 12 months, in February for harassing an ex-girlfriend and had since appeared in court for shoplifting offences.
Chairwoman of the bench Lorraine Montgomerie told Smith: “You must stop offending.”