TWO sisters were caught stealing from a South Tyneside store after an “amateurish” attempt at shoplifting.
Joanne and Cheryl Richardson, 29 and 26, were spotted looking suspicious as they left Debenhams in South Shields’ Waterloo Square on March 25.
CCTV cameras followed the sisters to the town centre’s Metro station, where police searched them and found three young girls’ dresses worth £72 from the shop.
The pair, who had the younger sister’s two-year-old child with them, were arrested and pleaded guilty to theft at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
Joanne Richardson also pleaded guilty to a second charge of theft after being caught stealing children’s clothing worth £102 from Matalan at Washington’s Galleries on April 8.
On that occasion, she was with her 11-year-old daughter.
John McGlone, prosecuting, said: “Officers were at South Shields Metro station after CCTV cameras picked up the pair looking suspicious leaving Debenhams.
“In a carrier bag they had three children’s dresses from Debenhams with the tags on.
“They said they had ‘bought it off a smackhead’ in the town centre.”
Mr McGlone added that Joanne Richardson was caught leaving Matalan in Washington with 13 items of children’s clothing.
Kieran O’Neill, defending, said: “They are completely incompetent and amateurish thieves.
“For some reason, the alarm didn’t go off when they left Debenhams, but they were acting so suspiciously at the Metro station that they attracted the attention of police officers.
“They were shaking when the officers approached them.
“They both say they turned to shoplifting because they had no money and have problems with their benefits. Both are single mothers and couldn’t make ends meet.”
Sentencing the sisters, both of Britannia Court, Elswick, Newcastle, chairwoman of the bench Linda Murphy said: “We take a very dim view of this.
“It costs the community at large when this happens, and people end up paying more for things.”
Joanne Richardson was given a 12-month community order, with 100 hours of unpaid work and a £60 victim surcharge.
Cheryl Richardson was given a six-month community order with supervision, and a 12-week curfew between 8pm and 7am, with a £60 victim surcharge.