A "COMPULSIVE" thief who was cycling around a town centre in the early hours of the morning stole £1,000 of stock from a shop after he found the fire door ajar.

Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court heard that prolific thief Craig Raper was out in Darlington looking for items he could take and sell on after he found himself without any money.

John Garside, prosecuting, said Raper stole children’s clothes, toiletries, a power drill, a TV monitor and a security system from new store Bobby B’s Baby Boutique on Bondgate.

He said: “Some time between 10.40pm on Monday, September 23 and 6am on Tuesday, September 24 the defendant entered the shop approximately five times and took property from within valued at £1,015.

The Northern Echo: Craig Raper, 36, pleaded guilty to burglary theft at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' CourtCraig Raper, 36, pleaded guilty to burglary theft at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court

“He was interviewed on September 25 and told police he had been riding around looking for items that had been discarded when he noticed the fire exit slightly ajar.”

The shop owner said in a victim statement that she feels unsafe now and is frightened to be alone in the building since the incident which has had a huge impact on her business which is in its infancy.

Raper, 36, of Millfield Road, North Ormesby, pleaded guilty to one charge of burglary other than dwelling theft.

His co-accused failed to attend the sentencing hearing yesterday.

Stephen Andrews, mitigating, said Raper was opportunist and that his thefts were compulsive.

He said: “He has developed a compulsion, if he sees an open car window or an open door he has to look to see if there is something he can take. He feels compelled.

“He is in receipt of state benefits and is left with around £190 per month to feed and clothe himself. Less than £50 per week and he has to pay his water. This is what he has to deal with every month.

“He used to be a chronic user of amphetamines, now it’s much less.

“On the night in question he found himself stuck in Darlington without any money after requests for a short term loan from family and friends fell on deaf ears.”

Chair of the bench David Smith sentenced Raper, of Millfield Road, North Ormesby, to 12 weeks in custody suspended for 12 months.

He must also complete 15 rehabilitation activity days and 150 hours of unpaid work and pay compensation to the shop owner.