Shoplifter banned from newsagent but spared prison after theft spree

Newsagent Hirenkumar Patel outside his shop Lavender News, which was stolen from three times in four

Newsagent Hirenkumar Patel outside his shop Lavender News, which was stolen from three times in four days. Picture: ARCHANT

A prolific shoplifter has been banned from returning to the Ipswich newsagent he targeted three times in four days.

Reece Burroughs got a lesson in paying his way from magistrates on Wednesday.

“You pick things up, go to the till and pay for them,” Michael Sweeting, chairman of the bench, explained to the 30-year-old, who stole a bottle of cognac and vodka from Lavender Hill News on November 19.

The former bricklayer, whose heroin habit lost him a job and place to live, returned the next day to steal vodka, whisky and Jack Daniel’s – threatening to “trash” Hirenkumar Patel’s Chantry shop if he intervened.

Two days later, he stole two more vodka and Jack Daniel’s, provoking Mr Patel to tell this paper he reported the crimes, but was told police were “too busy” and would not be able to visit him for up to seven days.

Burroughs, who confessed via video link from a detention room in Martlesham, was arrested on Tuesday and found to be in breach of a conditional discharge for stealing perfume from Boots and Debenhams in November.

Prosecutor Colette Harper said Burroughs was charged with four other thefts while in custody – of alcohol and perfume Sainsbury’s, B&M and Superdrug between November 16 and December 8.

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On one occasion, he pushed past a shop assistant who challenged him. On another, he gave a false name when caught putting alcohol into a foiled lined bag.

David Allan, representing Burroughs, said his client’s recreation use of class A drugs had intensified over time.

“It’s a bleak, if familiar, pattern of behaviour, aggravated by the sheer repetition of offences,” said Mr Allan, who explained Burroughs had recently made efforts to kick the habit and find accommodation.

Sentencing him to 15 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, Mr Sweeting said: “We’ve heard you are starting to get help – we encourage you to continue along those lines.

“We feel a restraining order is entirely appropriate. Find somewhere else to buy alcohol. I use the word ‘buy’ – it’s a funny old system; you pick things up, go to the till and pay for them.

“Take this opportunity to get yourself out of this cycle.”

Burroughs was ordered to pay £249.54 for the items he stole, along with £100 in compensation to the shop assistant he pushed.

Richard McCleary, 29, of Kelly Road Ipswich, was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison for his part in the third theft from Lavender Hill News – and for five other shoplifting offences – on December 7.

Admitting the charges at magistrates’ court, he was also ordered to pay compensation of more than £250.

Shopkeeper Hirenkumar Patel was displeased with the outcome of Wednesday’s sentencing, which saw Reece Burroughs receive a suspended prison spell.

“The judgement was unfair. He [Burroughs] is free.

“The restraining order is all well and good, but it doesn’t stop him doing the same thing to other shops.

“It’s a slap on the wrist – nothing more.”

Mr Patel used to run his shop with an open door during business hours, but has kept the front entrance closed since the thefts.

“I’m not convinced this person shouldn’t be inside.

“I appreciate the effort of police, but the judiciary has given him the benefit of the doubt.”