Shoplifter is caught after clothes theft

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A SERIAL shoplifter with 129 offences to her name has been caught stealing yet again.

Rachel Johnson went into fashion store Topshop and sneaked a dress and coat, worth £160, into her handbag.

The 25-year-old then sought the privacy of the shop’s changing rooms where she managed to remove the security tags before going to the cash desk and swindling a £65 cash refund for the jacket.

Shortly after, Johnson, who is mother to a young son and lives in Hartlepool’s Naisberry Park estate, was arrested.

She admitted her crime, saying she was under the influence of drugs at the time.

Prosecuting, Joanne Hesse told Hartlepool Magistrates Court: “The defendant entered Topshop, in The Bridges, in Sunderland, and she removed a dress and jacket and concealed the items in a handbag.

“She took the items to the changing rooms and removed the security tags.

“She went to the cash desk and received a full cash refund for the jacket and received a returns slip which was completed and signed by the defendant.

“The defendant was arrested and made full admissions, stating that at the time she was under the influence of drugs.”

She added that while Johnson was in custody she tested positive for class A drugs.

Johnson pleaded guilty to the theft, which took place on January 7, and also admitted two other thefts she committed on the same day so they could be taken into consideration.

The court also heard that Johnson, who served a prison sentence for shoplifting between committing this latest offence and appearing in court, has 129 offences on her record for 51 convictions.

The court heard 79 of those offences were of a “dishonest nature”.

Mitigating, Neil Taylor told justices: “As you will see from the record Rachel has served a custodial sentence since this offence. She went to prison because she was very highly into drugs and that caused her to steal.

“It’s now a case of ‘what do we do with her’, she’s back in society, how do we assist her now?”

Chairman of the magistrates’ bench John Glancey decided to sentence Johnson, of Daleston Close, Hartlepool, to a 12-month supervision order, ordered her to pay £65 compensation and £40 costs.

The money will be added to her court fines, which currently stands at more than £1,000.