A ‘PROFESSIONAL’ shoplifter was jailed for three years for threatening a store guard with a knife.

Wayne Thomas, who has 68 convictions for 149 offences, left TK Maxx, on Dragonville Retail Park, in Durham, with £209-worth of perfume on September 14, last year.

Durham Crown Court heard he was spotted by a security guard on his return to the store the next day, and police were informed.

Before there was a response, he was seen leaving with more boxes of unpaid for perfume and so the guard challenged him, taking hold of Thomas by the arm to lead him back to the shop.

Angus Taylor, prosecuting, said Thomas dropped the boxes, but then took a knife from his pocket, pointing it towards the guard, saying: “Do you want some?”

Fearing for his safety, the guard released his grip on Thomas’s arm and stepped back.

Mr Taylor said Thomas repeated: “Do you want it?”, and, as he made off, added: “I don’t f***ing think so.”

Thomas crossed the car park, stepped over some hedges and, as he headed for a nearby road, was spotted by the officer arriving following the earlier call.

He gave chase and detained him, while the guard found the discarded knife nearby.

Thomas, 41, of Edwin Street, Sunderland, denied a charge of affray, relating to the confrontation outside the store, but was unanimously convicted after only 24 minutes’ deliberation by the jury.

He admitted three counts of theft, including the two on successive days at TK Maxx.

Jamie Adams, mitigating, said Thomas perpetually stole from shops to pay for a heroin addiction.

But, since his remand in custody, he has, for the first time, “dried out”, and is no longer taking a prescribed heroin substitute.

Jailing him, Judge Christopher Prince said it was the only deterrent to prevent the determined, “professional” shoplifter committing further offences at commercial premises round the region.