Police were soon on scent of £1,000 perfume thief

CAUGHT ... Neal Preston.

CAUGHT ... Neal Preston.

A THIEF stole more than £1,000 of goods from a high street store – as he was struggling to pay his rent.

Neal Preston snatched 17 bottles of perfume and aftershave from Debenhams in Waterloo Square, South Shields, at 11.30am on November 18.

But he was caught packing the items into a large yellow bag by store CCTV cameras, and was arrested by police just 20 minutes later.

Preston, of Laygate, South Shields, pleaded guilty to a charge of shop theft at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

Zeena Begum, prosecuting, said: “On November 18 at 11.30am, the defendant entered Debenhams store and made his way to the perfume and aftershave aisle.

“He picked up 17 bottles of perfume and aftershave, and put them in a large yellow carrier bag and left without paying.”

Preston was spotted carrying out the theft by a staff member on CCTV and police were called.

He was arrested at 11.53pm – still carrying the yellow bag with brand items from the likes of Chanel, Gucci and Jimmy Choo inside – at 11.53pm.

All of the goods belonging to the store – valued at a total of £1,033 – were recovered.

When interviewed, the 36-year-old admitted the offences, and said he was planning to sell on the items.

Phillippa Wylie, defending, said: “He has entered a guilty plea at the first opportunity.

“He took 17 bottles of perfume and aftershave, which were valued at around £30 to £40 each.

“There was nothing sophisticated about this.

“He has simply gone to Debenhams and put the items in a rather conspicious yellow carrier bag.

“He is a man who has been in work for much of his life. He had a job in a haulage company but had lost that.

“He is living in private rented accomodation and has to pay £350 a month. As he is now on benefits, he can’t afford to pay it.

“He panicked and took the only option he felt he had, which was to go in the store and steal items to sell on.

““He fully accepts that he shouldn’t have done this.

“He got in a situation where his finances were overwhelming him, and he has taken the easy way out and paid the price for it.”

The court heard that Preston has had issues with drugs in the past, and is working with support agencies to tackle the problem.

He was given a community order with a drug rehabilitation requirement by magistrates in Newcastle on December 19 for an offence of going equipped for burglary.

Miss Wylie urged magistrates to allow that new order to continue.

Magistrates agreed to allow the community order and drug rehabilitation requirement to continue.

Preston’s sentence was deferred for six months to see what progress he can make with the order.

No costs were ordered, due to his limited means.

Twitter: @shieldsgazchris


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