Kent Police is continuing the crackdown on retail crime with immediate prison sentences on the same day, for two persistent thieves from Swale and Medway.

William Harris, 54, targeted shops in Sheerness High Street between Wednesday 20 December 2023 and Thursday 7 March 2024. Large quantities of food products and confectionary valued at more than £370, were stolen from Iceland, the Co-op, a newsagent and a clothing shop. Officers from the town’s Community Safety Unit identified him from CCTV footage and on Thursday 12 March, they tracked him down and arrested him.

They also seized a knife he was carrying. Harris was later charged by investigators from the Swale Victim Based Crime Team with six counts of theft and possessing a knife in a public place.

In a separate investigation, officers charged Lewis O’Brien, 33, with several thefts in Queenborough, Gillingham and Greenhithe. Between Wednesday 6 March and Tuesday 12 March, he stole multiple bottles of spirits and DIY items worth more than £500, from businesses including B&M Stores, Tesco, B&Q and Asda.

O’Brien was identified from CCTV footage and arrested in Chatham High Street by Medway Community Safety Unit constables. He was later charged with six counts of theft by investigators from the Medway Victim Based Crime Team. Both men pleaded guilty to all their indictments at Medway Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 13 March. Harris, from Sheerness, was immediately jailed for 20 weeks and O’Brien, from Gillingham, was imprisoned for four months. Both men were ordered to pay compensation to their victims.

District Commander for Swale, Chief Inspector Di Middlemiss, said:

‘We are determined to target those persistent criminals who decide payment for items from shops is optional. My warning to them is clear – we know who you are and will track you down when presented with evidence of your offending such as CCTV footage. You will then be placed before the court and in all likelihood will be serving an immediate prison sentence within days of your arrest.’

By Ed

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