TWO drug addicts went on a Christmas shoplifting and burglary spree stealing more than £8,000 worth of goods.

And the judge said the pair were responsible for a 'substantial' amount of crime committed in Hartlepool in that time.

Philip Thorpe and Paul Atkinson committed the vast majority of the 20-plus crimes together when they would target shops and steal hundreds of pounds worth of alcohol, perfume or gift packs, at a time.

The pair, both of no fixed abode, targeted a number of businesses, including Morrisons, Asda, Sainsbury's and Boots, during their two-week long crime spree.

Teesside Crown Court heard how from December 17 until New Year's Eve they were stealing from two or three shops a day as well as breaking into Aldi and KFC, where Atkinson managed to cause hundreds of pounds worth of damage to escape with a muffin and a can of pop.

Emma Atkinson, prosecuting, said Thorpe pleaded guilty to 27 offences, of which two were burglaries committed with Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to a total 20 offences, including one burglary on his own.

The court heard that the offending started the day after they had been sentenced for similar charges.

Miss Atkinson said they stole from Boots in Hartlepool on four occasions and managed to get away with items costing just short of £2,000.

On December 17 they managed to steal ten bottles of Jack Daniels whiskey worth £200 from the Asda on Marina Way and the following day stole more whiskey from the town's Morrisons.

The pair again targeted Morrisons on the morning of December 21 and stole £200 worth of booze before heading to Boots and stealing cosmetics worth £658.

Over the next week they stole several hundred pounds worth of gift sets from Boots, £200 worth of underwear from Matalan and confectionery from Sainsbury's.

Miss Atkinson said they also broke into the Ward Jackson pub, causing hundreds of pounds worth of damage, before stealing charity boxes and alcohol.

James Yearsley, in mitigation for father-of-three Thorpe, 31, said his client's addiction to alcohol and crack cocaine was at the root of his offending.

And Marton Scarborough, representing Atkinson, 41, said: "He come out from his previous sentence around August last year and worked with Gateway to get accommodation but he has been of no fixed abode since then, which is part of the problem but not an excuse.

"It was while he was sleeping rough that he started using drugs again."

Judge Stephen Ashurst jailed both men, of no fixed abode, to two years and three months in prison.

He said: "Over a two week period the two of you will have been responsible for a substantially large amount of shoplifting that occurred in Hartlepool.

"The two of you got away with more than £8,000 worth of goods. It's not just the volume of offending, it was the view that you took that you could steal at will."