A SERIAL thief was given the “bare minimum” punishment for his latest shop raid – to help him keep a promise to change his ways.
David Bell was caught on CCTV snatching more than £50 worth of food from the One Stop Store, in Stanhope Road, South Shields – the latest in a string of thefts in recent months.
The 30-year-old, who has 37 previous convictions, pleaded guilty to the shop theft – which took place on May 19 – at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
Bell, of Titian Avenue, South Shields, was told to give up his life of crime by magistrates last month after admitting another theft from April – as he is not very good at it.
The theft for which he was in court yesterday took place before that warning, but Bell was only arrested for the matter on Tuesday.
Bell was also given a 16-week jail term in February for breaching a suspended sentence by snatching protein powder shakes worth £106 from the Holland and Barrett store in King Street, South Shields, in January and stealing three joints of beef, together valued at £36, from the town’s Lidl supermarket in Boldon Lane in February.
It was his second spell in custody in the space of a year as he was previously jailed for seven months for thefts at three South Shields shops while serving another suspended sentence.
That time round, he stole almost £500 worth of cosmetics and razor blades from Boots in King Street during two separate visits and also took baby blankets and socks, valued at £42, from British Home Stores in Waterloo Square.
Glenda Beck, prosecuting, said: “Bell could be seen on CCTV selecting items from the One Stop store and putting them in a carrier bag and leaving without offering payment. He was identified from the CCTV and arrested.”
Laura Johnson, defending, said: “Mr Bell accepts he has got a horrific record for shop theft offences. He had tried to make a claim for benefits when he was released from prison and didn’t have any money for food or gas and electricity. He decided to steal the food to sell on or eat.
“He has pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and should be given full credit for that. He now has his benefits sorted.
She added: “He has totally and categorically said to me that he has changed his ways and hopes not to be before the court again.”
Magistrates gave Bell a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered him to pay compensation to the store of £52.72.
No court costs were ordered due to Bell’s financial circumstances.
Gerald Tierney, chair of the magistrates, said: “You have obviously got a lot of previous offences.
“We don’t want you to go out and imediately do the same thing again.
“Hopefully you have got yourself sorted out. You are getting away with the bare minimum to make sure you don’t do this again.
“Try not to get into any more trouble.”