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A prolific shoplifter stole almost £11,000 worth of goods in an eight-month thieving spree.

In a case that epitomises the shoplifting epidemic blighting Britain’s High Streets, Nadine Kowalski made almost daily raids on stores in her hometown – on three occasions brazenly returning to loot more goods just hours later.

A court heard the 27-year-old drug addict helped herself to as much as £504 worth of groceries at a time, seemingly confident in the knowledge of not getting caught.

Kowalski was so prolific that the courts admitted it was ‘hard to keep track’ of her offending.

In her latest court appearance this week she admitted 26 separate theft offences but magistrates had to adjourn sentencing as they were told there are still several more to come through the system.

Kowalski, who was also dealt with three times for shoplifting by courts in June and August, was remanded into custody.

Nadine Kowalski stole almost £11,000 worth of goods in an eight-month thieving spree in her home town

Poole Magistrates’ Court in Dorset, heard Kowalski’s shoplifting spree unfolded at five different Co-op stores around neighbouring Bournemouth, where she lives, as well as a Tesco and a Waitrose branch.

The Co-op recorded a 35 per cent rise in shoplifting in the first six months of this year and Paul Gerrard, the retailer’s director of public affairs, said shopkeepers are ‘under siege’ from thieves.

Mr Gerrard told a panel at the Labour Party conference this week that the firm suffers 1,000 shoplifting incidents a day, adding that ‘police don’t turn up in 70 per cent of instances’.

The Mail On Sunday has launched a campaign calling for tougher penalties for shoplifters – and abuse or violence towards shop staff made a specific offence.

Kowalski shoplifted 43 times between December 6 last year and August 10, stealing goods worth £10,851.86.

In August Kowalski was given a 12-month community order after admitting nine counts of theft for shoplifting offences totalling £1,944.35 from January to May, having previously been sentenced twice in June for a total of eight offences.

This week she appeared in relation to the outstanding 26 offences committed through July and August, totalling £7,332.

Kowalski hit the same Co-op store on Columbia Road, Bournemouth, five times in four days, stealing £1,475 of stock, the court heard. In all, she stole from the store 17 times on 15 different days in July, making off with stock worth £4,503.90.

On July 19, Kowalski pilfered from both the Columbia Road store and another Co-op on Queens Road, the court heard.

District Judge Orla Austin said she had come across Kowalski ‘a number of times’ in court, adding: ‘On the last occasion when I imposed the community order, I made it very clear, the consequences of reoffending.

‘Since then she has reoffended. There are so many thefts and more keep being fed through, it is quite hard to keep track of what is outstanding and what has been resolved.’ She warned Kowalski she was likely to be sent to prison when she was sentenced at the end of the month.

Charlene Corbin, who works in a Bournemouth Co-op store, was left with a gaping head wound when she confronted another shoplifter in July.

Charlene Corbin, who works in a Bournemouth Co-op store, was left with a gaping head wound when she confronted another shoplifter in July

The worker had blood streaming down her hair from a blow to her head

She said she was ‘familiar’ with Kowalski but was not involved in her case.

Miss Corbin added that shoplifters ‘know there is no justice.’ She added: ‘If they know they can get away with it, they strut in with confidence.

‘Sometimes they go up and down the aisles five or six times before walking to the checkout to bag up their products and they then say they forgot their card and run for it.

‘For big thefts, we do make an effort to report to the police but it sometimes takes weeks for a response and by that time it’s past 31 days and the CCTV is gone.’ Mr Gerrard told delegates at the Labour conference that even when store staff detain shoplifters, police do not attend in ‘eight out of ten’ instances.. He said: ‘That means we have to let them go’.

He has said the issue was being driven by organised crime, with produce and alcohol sold on in pubs or at markets.

The police have been accused of decriminalising shoplifting after legislation introduced in 2014 which allowed officers to close low level cases with a fine rather than investigate them.

Chris Philp, the policing minister has urged police to investigate all thefts.

Labour this week vowed to change the law to stop shoplifters who steal goods worth less than £200 escaping with a fine.

The Office for National Statistics said shoplifting soared by a quarter in the 12 months to March, with 339,206 incidents reported to police.

The British Retail Consortium estimates the true figure to be around eight million, at a cost of nearly £1 billion per year.

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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