A SERIAL shoplifter has become the first person in Sunderland to be banned from city stores.
Tara Ellis, pictured left, of Hendon Burn Avenue, Hendon, has a history of shoplifting stretching back a decade.
Ellis was slapped with the tough exclusion order by a Newcastle Crown Court judge. The 12-month order bans her from entering the Bridges and any other stores in the City Centre Shopwatch scheme.
Ellis was also given a 12 month community order after being convicted of shoplifting offences.
She was caught trying to take items from Marks and Spencers on High Street West - the fourth time in less than a year that the 30-year-old has been brought before the courts for stealing.
The move, which was brought against Ellis by Pcs Steve Stringer and Gill Calvert, of Sunderland Central Neighbourhood Policing Team, is the first to be dished out across Wearside.
Inspector Neal Craig, who heads the team, said the order provides officers with an extra weapon to use against thieves who continually target shops.
“In the past, anyone arrested for shoplifting has been banned from the city as part of their bail conditions,” he said.
“This order means they are banned as part of their conviction and any breach will see them put before the courts again.
“This should send out a clear warning to anyone who is intent on coming in to the city centre to steal that we are determined to make sure they face the consequences of their actions.
“Police, retailers and other agencies are working together to put a stop to their criminal behaviour and will use every tactic available to put a stop their stealing.”
The order was brought before the court after officers worked closely with Northumbria Probation Service.
And they have vowed to use it against anyone else caught continually shoplifting across Sunderland.
If Ellis is found in any shops in the excluded area, she faces being put before the courts again.
Andy Bradley, centre director at The Bridges, said: “We take security at The Bridges very seriously and welcome schemes such as this that further protect both our retailers and shoppers.”