Drug addict stole TV from charity shop

A “despicable” charity shop thief and his partner-in-crime have been jailed after going out stealing again the day after being given suspended sentences.
Burnley Magistrates' Court.Burnley Magistrates' Court.
Burnley Magistrates' Court.

Burnley magistrates heard how prolific crook Carl Wood (36), said to have a 34-page criminal record, walked out of the town’s British Heart Foundation store with a 32in. Panasonic television, worth £100. Joanne Houston (35) helped herself to a £40 handbag from the Clarks Shoe Shop, in The Mall, on the same pilfering trip.

The pair, drug addicts who share a home in Cog Lane, Burnley, had received six weeks in prison, suspended for a year just the day before, after admitting a joint shoplifting offence to the tune of £62.77.

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They are now both behind bars for 14 weeks, after each admitted theft, committed on April 14th. The Bench activated the full suspended term imposed on April 13th and added eight weeks consecutive for the latest crimes. The defendants were also ordered to pay £180 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

Prosecutor Alex Mann said, about 4pm, a shopper told a worker at the British Heart Foundation shop, in Croft Street, a couple had just walked off with a TV.

Police were contacted by a town CCTV operator and, as an officer was viewing footage of the theft from Clarks, he could see Houston walk into Boot Way and meet a man outside the British Heart Foundation shop. She stood at the door and he went in and came out with the TV. They then walked off into the bus station.

The court was told the television had been recovered, but the handbag not.

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Miss Mann said Wood was interviewed and apologied for stealing from a charity shop.

The prosecutor said Wood’s record started in the late 1990s and included burglary, frequent shoplifting and drugs offences and he had been in prison. Houston’s previous convictions were “not incredibly extensive” and she had started shoplifting last year.

John Rusius (defending Wood and Houston) said the April 14th thefts were committed on the spur of the moment.

Wood had got in with the wrong crowd, who introduced him to drugs and he had gone into a downward spiral. He had tried to address his problems, but substituted drugs with alcohol. The solicitor said: “Now, unfortunately, there are issues with both alcohol and drugs.”

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Mr Rusius said Wood had been made subject of a community order with an alcohol treatment programme, was attending Inspire and was on methadone. The solicitor told the hearing: “That order has not kicked in, as they say, and that’s something he desperately wants to carry on with and something he desperately wants to achieve.”

For Houston, Mr Rusius said she started dabbling in drugs due to a problem relationship she had had, when she “lost everything” and was now on a drugs rehabilitation requirement. He continued: “It is a very recent order and she has not started to get the benefit of that at this stage. She has never been to custody before and is terrified.”

Sentencing, Bench chairman Graham Jagger told Wood the charity shop theft was despicable and continued: “The British Heart Foundation do some fantastic work, as do other charities, and to contemplate stealing from a charity shop is unacceptable to us and, I believe, all of society.”