A serial shoplifter has been given a 12-month suspended jail sentence for the theft of an array of goods, ranging from multiple boxes of chocolates and wine to trainers.

Paul James, 31, of Thorpe Road, Norwich, pleaded guilty on Thursday 12 May 2022 at Norwich Magistrates Court to a series of more than 20 shoplifting offences carried out over the last few months in shops around Norwich, a common assault, burglary, attempting to steal a pedal cycle and a public order offence. He was sentenced to 12 months, suspended for 24 months while he undergoes drug rehabilitation treatment.

The shoplifting offences include taking meat and alcohol worth £300 from a Tesco Store in Unthank Road on the afternoon of 6 April 2022. A few days later April 11, James stole six boxes of Ferrero Rocher and six boxes of Guylian chocolates, valued at around £90 from Sainsbury’s in St Stephens Street at around 10.30pm and was caught on CCTV. On April 14, James entered the Nike Factory Store at the Riverside Retail Park in Norwich and filled a bag for life with £82.95 worth of stock, leaving without paying.

On the afternoon of 30 April, James stole a sandwich at One Stop on Prince of Wales Road, Norwich. The incident was seen by a store assistant who challenged James, who has then turned and pushed the victim twice in the chest and subsequently reported the incident as a common assault.

On 8 May a shop worker at Tesco in Prince of Wales Road bumped into James as he was attempting to leave the store. James instantly handed over a case containing six bottles of wine and said he was bringing them back. He then left the store, came back in and started shouting in an aggressive and threatening way and was reported for a public order offence.

James was also seen attempting the theft of pedal cycle trying to cut locks at a property on Thorpe Road, Norwich on the 10 May 2022 at around 10pm. Additionally, he was caught on CCTV committing a burglary at the Revado Hotel on Stracey Road, Norwich, on the 10 May 2022 in the early hours. He was identified in CCTV images as entering the window of the restaurant/bar and taken the cashbox from the till containing around £300 in cash as well as an iPhone and a Samsung tablet.

Officers knew James was outstanding for a number of offences and they were given information of his location, arrested him on Rosary Road and subsequently searched his home recovering the Samsung tablet and phone.

Sergeant Chris Clay said: “Shoplifting is often perceived as a low-level offence but it’s economic impact and the impact on those people that work in retail cannot be underestimated, and it remains one of the priorities for Norfolk police particularly in the city centre. This sentence was the result of a significant amount of collaborative work by local neighbourhood and response officers, and we hope this offers a measure of reassurance to our retail partners.”