ONE of South Tyneside’s most prolific criminals is back behind bars again.
Serial shoplifter Keith Bingham has been jailed for eight weeks - just days after his last sentence ended.
The 45-year-old - who has more than 50 convictions for theft to his name - was only released from prison on Friday after a previous eight-week sentence for stealing bottles of vodka from Lidl, in Boldon Lane, South Shields.
But just four days later he was at it again - and was caught pocketing 11 blocks of cheese from Heron Foods, in the town’s Market Place.
He was arrested on Monday afternoon and pleaded guilty to theft at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court a day later.
The court heard that police officers picked up Bingham from Durham prison on Friday and brought him back to South Shields so he could attend a meeting with the probation service and other agencies to try and help him stay on the straight and narrow.
Now the town’s Neighbourhood Inspector Peter Sutton has blasted the thief for throwing their efforts back in their faces.
He said: “Bingham is a persistent offender who refuses to engage with services that are there to help him.
“Now he is finding that the more times he commits crimes, the less avenues are available for him to get help.
“The only option for him is going to prison. How else can you deal with someone that won’t accept help?”
Insp Sutton is warning other shoplifters they could go the same way.
He said: “We will continue to target prolific shoplifters like Bingham.
“And like him, any that don’t take the opportunities they have to change their ways will be dealt with in the only way that keeps them off the streets.”
Police in South Shields launched Operation Intrepid two years ago to crackdown on shoplifting in the town centre.
As part of the operation, officers regularly patrol the town’s shopping centres to try to deter shoplifters, as well as working with CCTV and store security staff across to catch anyone that does steal from stores.