A customer who was caught pretending to steal a tin of lager made a racist remark to the shopkeeper.
Carl Sullivan made the offensive remark to a member of staff at Cash Care in Owton Manor Lane, Hartlepool, the town’s magistrates’ court heard.
“It was about 4pm in the afternoon,” said David Ward, prosecuting.
“Sullivan was in the shop with three other males. He picked up a can and went to put it in his jacket.
“There was then some unfriendly repartee with the staff. Sullivan then went behind the shop’s counter.
“As he went back into the shop’s public area, he pushed one of the staff and made a racially offensive remark.
“Both of the store staff present were Asian males.”
Sullivan, 26, of Fraser Grove, Hartlepool, admitted racially aggravated common assault and racially aggravated harassment, both on March 13.
The court heard he had 20 previous convictions, mostly for public order offences.
David Smith, defending, said in mitigation: “This was an unpleasant incident, but it was over before it had begun. He did not genuinely try to steal the lager, it was horseplay gone too far.
“Mr Sullivan was a regular visitor to the shop, and has been back since.
“The staff still serve him, so the court can be confident there are no ongoing problems.”
The bench adjourned the case for the preparation of a pre-sentence report.
Sullivan was bailed on condition he does not enter the shop.