A ‘PROFESSIONAL shoplifter’ who threatened staff in two Leamington supermarkets with a Stanley knife when they tried to stop him leaving has been jailed.
Barry Miller had only been out of prison for four days, with nothing to eat and nowhere to live, when he carried out the thefts at the Aldi and Co-op stores, a judge has heard.
Miller, age 35 of no fixed address, was jailed for 27 months after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to robbery, theft and two charges of possessing a bladed article in a public place.
Prosecutor Graeme Simpson said that on July 6, Miller went into the Aldi supermarket in Queensway, Leamington, where he was seen trying to leave through the entrance door rather than the exit.
He had a basket with him which contained £37 worth of meat – and as a member of staff went to challenge him, he turned and brandished a Stanley knife, saying: “What’s your problem?”
The staff member backed off, and Miller left with the meat.
The following morning he went to the Co-op in Clemens Street where the assistant manager, watching him on the CCTV system, saw him helping himself to meat worth £42 and leaving.
When the assistant manager – who recognised him from his part-time role as a special constable – went to try to apprehend him as he got outside, Miller again produced the Stanley knife and ordered him to get out of his way.
Police used CCTV to track Miller to nearby flats where he was arrested.
Deputy Judge Michael Stokes QC said Miller, who had 70 previous convictions for theft and other offences of dishonesty, was ‘a professional shoplifter.’
Ian Speed, defending, said: “He had been released from prison four days earlier, having served an eight-week sentence for theft, and had no money and no accommodation.
“Four days of sleeping rough, and no food, he stole out of necessity.”
Conceding that Miller was facing a prison sentence of some length, Mr Speed added: “He was doomed to fail, because every shopkeeper in this area recognises him.”
Jailing Miller, Judge Stokes told him: “On two occasions you went into stores armed with a Stanley knife.
“You have an appalling record of stealing from shops, and this is your fourth conviction for that this year.”