‘Career criminal’ who stole £5,000 in armed raid jailed after Westfield shopping spree
- Credit: Archant
A man from Clacton has been jailed for robbing a Colchester building society of £5,000 after being caught on a spending spree in Westfield Shopping Centre.
Bruce Chipunza entered the Saffron Building Society branch in Culver Street West on July 1, 2019, armed with a screwdriver.
The 31-year-old threatened two staff members before running off.
Detectives scoured CCTV footage from the town centre and spotted him entering a hotel to change clothes, before taking a taxi back to Ellis road in Clacton, where he was staying.
Footage showed he then left the address in different clothes and went to Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford for a shopping spree.
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He had tried to use a cloned mobile phoned to hide his movements but was arrested once he returned to Clacton the next day.
He was convicted at Chelmsford Crown Court on Monday, November 23, after a two-week trial and was sentenced to eight years in prison.
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Not only was he convicted for the Colchester robbery, but also for another just days before in Chadwell Heath, north east London.
Chipunza had 21 previous convictions for 45 offences which included theft, burglary and fraud.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Tim Harris said: “Chipunza is a persistent career criminal who showed no remorse for his crimes.
“During the trial, he heard the evidence from his victims, some of whom have been left with life changing psychological trauma.
“We have supported them throughout the investigation and trial, and I commend them for their courage in facing him and giving evidence in court.
“Detectives and evidential specialists worked diligently to piece together the overwhelming evidence linking Chipunza to both robberies.”
A spokesman for the Saffron Building Society said “We thank the authorities for their swift and effective action to detain the thief and protect the people of Essex.
“We at Saffron Building Society are pleased with the outcome and that the perpetrator was handed an appropriate sentence for his crime.
“We take security at our branches very seriously and thanks to safety and security procedures we have in place, no staff or members of the public were harmed in the incident.”