Lewis McMahon, 20, of Beach Road, South Shields, and an accomplice left an old coat on a hanger at Fenwick’s Northumberland Street outlet and made off with a new jacket.
Security staff who came across the substitution rouse checked CCTV and honed-in on McMahon, due to his unusual neck inking.
When he and his partner in crime returned the next day, on Friday, November 1, and tried to swipe hundreds of pounds of clothing, he was identified and detained.
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McMahon has now been hit with a fines, costs and compensation bill of £245 for a thieving scam that netted the pair just a £95 jacket.
Prosecutor Lesley Burgess told South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court: “A security officer sees that a new coat on a hanger had been replaced by a worn jacket.
“They checked CCTV and two males are seen, one had a distinctive tattoo.
“The following day the same store detective was in and identified that the same males were again in the store.
“They had selected items and put them into a bag and tried to leave the store but were stopped.
“Both admitted the offences. All items were recovered, bar the jacket which was £95.”
Dave Parish, defending, said McMahon had no previous convictions or cautions and had got in with the wrong crowd.
He added: “It’s a mystery to me why it’s been this long to bring this before the court, even with the pandemic. They gave immediate admissions.
“The situation is that he’s a young man of previous good character.
“He was living with his mum and they had fallen out and he had got in with the wrong crowd and had taken illicit substances.
“The theft was not his idea, but he went along with the idea. He is deeply sorry and deeply ashamed by his actions.
“This young man has never been before the authorities, and you’re not going to see him again.”