A PROLIFIC shoplifter is back behind bars following a spree in which he stole almost £3,000-worth of mainly alcohol items from supermarkets across County Durham in less than four months.

Kieron Peter Clark removed security tags from bottles and placed the stolen items in foil-lined bags to avoid arousing suspicion and prevent alarms triggering at store exits.

Durham Crown Court heard he had already struck twice at Asda in Spennymoor, taking £858 and £754-worth of alcohol, in the weeks before he received a suspended prison sentence for previous offending, on October 30.

Sam Faulks, prosecuting, said despite having that suspended sentence hanging over him, Clark was, “back to business” within a week, taking £180 of alcohol, again from Asda, in Spennymoor.

His one-man spate of crime carried on until January 26, when he took £270-worth of alcohol, from Asda, in Peterlee.

Mr Faulks said the defendant admitted eight counts of shop theft at the magistrates’ court and was committed for sentence to the crown court.

“Effectively, there’s a whole raft of shoplifting, all following a particular pattern, walking into well-known large shops in County Durham and just making off without payment.

“Quite a lot of the time he removed tags from bottles he was stealing and he also put items into a bag lined with silver foil to prevent being detected and setting off alarms.”

The targeted premises also included Asda, in Bishop Auckland, and Aldi, in Peterlee, taking in all items totalling £2,965l between October 4 and January 26.

Only £200-worth of the stolen goods were recovered.

Mr Faulks said the 32-year-old defendant, formerly of Ludworth, near Durham, has 87 convictions for 217 offices, 155 of them theft and related matters.

“The only time it appears he’s not committing thefts is when he’s in prison.”

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Mr Faulks said Clark’s previous offences were, “quite indiscriminate”, and included those committed in Alicante, Rotterdam and Wales.

“There was some degree of planning and an inference of stealing to order”, added Mr Faulks.

But Lewis Kerr, for Clark, said the defendant does not accept that to be the case.

“He’s been on recall for a number of weeks now.”

Mr Kerr said Clark’s offending, to pay for his long-term crack cocaine and alcohol addiction, goes back to the age of 16 and has followed a cycle where, upon release, he has never had stable accommodation.

“He’s someone who the system does not seem to suit, with short and moderate-length sentences.

“He gets out on licence with no real support for accommodation and addiction, but he accepts there’s only himself to blame.”

Recorder Simon Goldberg passed a 12-week prison sentence and said it was not “unjust” to activate the entire 18-weeks of the suspended sentence imposed in October, consecutively, to make a 30-week total.

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