A SERIAL shoplifter who stuffed stolen goods up her jumper and filled baskets full of meat, makeup and drinks before leaving without paying has been jailed for more than 20 months to give shop owners a 'rest from her activities'.

Joanne Swift pleaded guilty to stealing or attempting to steal hundreds of pounds worth of goods on five separate occasions as well as possessing a bladed article.

The 41-year-old has a long history of shoplifting dating back 22-years and includes almost 60 offences, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Harry Hadfield, prosecuting, said the first incident happened in McColl's in Hartlepool on August 28 when she stole £53.94 of food including hot dogs, cheese and bacon.

Her next offence took place at Lidl in the town on September 23 when she attempted to steal wine and meat but was caught by store security and arrested.

Swift, of Everett Street, Hartlepool, then targeted Wilko on October 3 and 7 when on both occasions she stole £300 worth of makeup, including mascara and lipsticks.

Her next offence took place on October 15 when she attempted to steal £30 worth of shortbread biscuits but was caught by staff. When police searched her back on that occasion they found a red Stanley Knife – resulting in her charge of possession of a bladed article.

The final offence took place on October 27 when she stole makeup and perfume from TK Maxx.

Andrew Teate, mitigating, said his client had pleaded guilty to the charges and had started a methadone programme the week before her arrest to tackle her heroin addiction.

He said Swift had been offered a secure tenancy by the local authority after spending a considerable length of time homeless.

Judge Deborah Sherwin jailed Swift for 16 months for the thefts from Wilko with three three month concurrent sentences for the other three shoplifting offences. She was given a 145 day consecutive sentence for possession of the Stanley Knife.

"You have an appalling record of previous convictions," she said. "Over the last 22 years you have been committing shoplifting offences, along with other offences, and you have 59 convictions for shoplifting.

"It is quite clear to me that you are a regular and prolific shoplifter and the time has come when local shops need a break from your activities."