Serial thief could be jailed after taking a knife on a shoplifting trip to Top Shop at The Bridges

A serial thief could be jailed after being caught with a knife exiting a Sunderland fashion store empty handed when he was disturbed by a security guard.

Monday, 13th July 2020, 7:00 am

Ryan Neil, 37, of Willmore Street, Millfield, Sunderland, has been warned by a court the starting point for carrying a blade in a public place is six months in prison.

Neil was tailed by police as he walked into Top Shop’s outlet at The Bridges shopping centre on Monday, January 13, magistrates in South Tyneside heard.

They suspected his bag had been modified to have a foil-lined interior, which prevents electronic store detectors picking up security tags.

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The Bridges Shopping Centre in Sunderland

Prosecutor Paul Anderson said Neil opened the bag inside the shop but turned to leave after realising a security guard was watching.

But the criminal, who has 10 previous theft convictions, was nabbed by officers on the way out – and the knife and foil were found.

Mr Anderson said: “Officers noted the defendant carrying a large bag which looked to be foil-lined. We all know the purpose of foil-lined bags.

“They follow him into the store and he then had the bag open. A security guard seems to interrupt him, and he goes to leave the store.

“He is stopped at the exit. When searched, a lock knife is found in his possession.”

Added Mr Anderson: “When interviewed, he made admissions that he had the bag to go shoplifting.

“He said that he usually had the knife for work and that he hadn’t been to work that day and found the knife was still on him.”

Gerry Armstrong, defending, said: “The reality of the situation is that Mr Neil was seen by two police officers.

“They follow him and stop him. They found a very small penknife.

“He had used the knife a few days earlier to cut plasterboard and had left it in his pocket.

“I accept that there’s a record and you will look at all options”

Magistrates adjourned the case for reports and Neil, who pleaded guilty to going equipped to burgle and possession of a knife in a public place, was granted unconditional bail to appear at the same court for sentencing on Wednesday, July 29.

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