Serial teenage thief spared jail after hat-trick of thefts from South Shields store

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A PROLIFIC teenage thief who raided the same South Tyneside convenience store three times in as many weeks has narrowly avoided jail.

Colin Dunn stole cigarettes, tobacco and booze from McColl’s newsagents, in Abbey Drive, Jarrow, from January 9 to February 2, with the first offence taking place just hours after he had been given a community order in court for another convenience-store theft.

The 19-year-old also stole alcohol and cigarettes from Singh’s Wine Stores, in Quarry Lane, South Shields, on Wednesday, February 18 – while on bail awaiting his court hearing for the three offences in Jarrow.

Dunn, of Westmoreland Road, South Shields, admitted three counts of theft and one of burglary, when he appeared in the custody dock at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

He was told his offences had “crossed the custody threshold” – but was spared an immediate jail term as magistrates decided to suspend the sentence.

John McGlone, prosecuting, said: “On January 9 at 8pm, Dunn went into McColl’s and asked for a bottle of Jack Daniels, a bottle of Southern Comfort, a packet of cigarettes and tobacco.

“The cigarettes and tobacco were on the counter as the staff member turned to get the alcohol, then Dunn picked up the cigarettes and tobacco and left without paying.

“On January 30, Dunn went back to the store and snatched a bottle of Southern Comfort and a bottle of Jack Daniels. “He completed a hat-trick of raids on February 2, after going into the store and again asking for bottles of Southern Comfort and Jack Daniels.

“A staff member was bagging up the goods when Dunn reached behind the counter and snatched the drinks from her.”

As Dunn had reached behind the customer counter area to steal the goods, he was charged with burglary for this offence.

In total, Dunn stole over £100 worth of cigarettes, spirits and tobacco during the four raids.

The court heard that Dunn had only been given a 12-month community order at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on January 9, for stealing two packets of cigarettes from H Robinsons Premier Store on New Year’s Eve.

He was given 140 hours of unpaid work later in the month after he stole a schoolboy’s bike.

Dunn received a six-month jail sentence for a spate of shop raids last July.

Christopher Brown, defending, said: “People were bringing pressure to bear on him to go into the shop and steal. When he has gone in the shop, he hasn’t tried to disguise himself by pulling a hat down over his head or a jumper to cover his face.”

Nicola Burns, chairwoman of the magistrates, told Dunn: “We believe the totality of offences do cross the custody threshold. You were subject to a community order at the time and were on bail at the time of your last offence.

Dunn was given a 20-week jail sentence – suspended for 12 months – and must complete 140 hours of unpaid work.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £106 in compensation for the four offences.