Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Thief Who Brought a Shop to Its Knees; Jail for Prolific Shoplifter

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Thief Who Brought a Shop to Its Knees; Jail for Prolific Shoplifter

Article excerpt

Byline: GARETH LIGHTFOOT newsdesk@reachplc.com @EveningGazette

A PROLIFIC thief who single-handedly jeopardised the future of a shop with his shoplifting has been jailed for almost three years.

Mark Bird, 34, reached a new low when he threatened to stab a shopkeeper as he stuffed a bag with stolen groceries.

Now he has been locked up and slapped with a restraining order meant to protect the shop and give its staff and customers "security and comfort".

Prosecutor Emma Atkinson said: "McColl's on Birchington Avenue, Grangetown, has been plagued by the defendant for a consistent period of time in the build-up to August 1."

A shopkeeper said Bird's pilfering was so frequent it put the business itself at risk.

"She says that because of his actions there is a real threat that the store may not survive and that it may have to close because of those losses at the hands of the defendant," added Ms Atkinson.

Bird hung around outside the shop then returned with a scarf over his face and started putting groceries into a carrier bag at about 11.30am on August 1.

The shopkeeper told him to get out and he threatened her: "Don't come any closer or I'll stick a knife in you."

She did not see a knife but feared for her safety and did not think it was worth the risk trying to grab the goods back.

Bird left and was later arrested at his home with a knife on his bed.

The victim of the robbery said it caused her more anxiety and fear, and put the shop at risk of closure as they could not get staff to work night shifts.

Bird, of Eglington Walk, Grangetown, admitted robbery as he appeared in court via video link to Durham Prison.

He had 46 previous offences including five thefts from the same shop, burglary and being concerned in heroin supply.

He was under a suspended sentence at the time for thefts from other stores. …

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