Prolific shoplifter escapes jail after handbag theft

A PROLIFIC shoplifter who stole a handbag she ‘liked the look of’ has been banned from the store she targeted but has escaped an immediate prison sentence.

A security guard patrolling the shops in Eastbourne’s Arndale Centre was alerted by radio about a theft from Clarks.

They were given a name and description and found Tara Bruce in Hyde Gardens with the handbag on her.

In interview she said she had been with a friend and had seen the item but didn’t have enough money to pay for it.

The 37-year-old, of no fixed abode, but who formerly lived in Eastbourne town centre, pleaded guilty to theft and breaching a conditional discharge.

Jay Shah, defending, asked magistrates to consider a financial penalty or community based penalty.

He added, “In the past it [offending] has been because of an addiction to drugs, but she says that’s no longer the case and is not the motivation behind the offence on this occasion.

“When she received a drug rehabilitation order there was an issue with drugs but at this stage she doesn’t feel it’s an issue.

“She was not able to attend appointments as requested and that was mainly due to her being signed off sick.

“If you look at the previous convictions her offending has been prolific but despite that this does not cross the custody threshold.”

Magistrates sentenced Bruce to six weeks in prison which was suspended for nine months.

She was also told she must not enter Clarks for a period of 12 weeks.

The conditional discharge was revoked and no order for costs was made.