A judge ordered a case of theft from a shop to be referred to the police for a caution.
Kenneth Richardson admitted hiding some groceries while paying for other items at the self-service tills at Asda in Marina Way, Hartlepool.
Richardson, 35, appeared before Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court where he admitted theft on December 10.
After hearing the case, District Judge Andrew Meachin refused to sentence Richardson. He said: “I cannot understand why this case was not dealt with by way of a caution.
“The defendant does have previous convictions, but he has not offended for six years.
“Perhaps the police and Crown Prosecution Service would reconsider it if they are told a district judge really thinks they should.”
Prosecutor John Garside said he would pass on the judge’s comments.
The judge told Richardson: “If the police agree, you will not have to come back to court, and the theft will not be recorded on your record as a conviction.”
Richardson, of Arch Court, Hartlepool, was bailed.