Opportunist thief stole from tradesman working on Sunderland store refit

Debenhams in The Bridges
Debenhams in The Bridges

A tradesman working through the night on the refit of a Sunderland department store’s cosmetics department became the victim of an opportunist thief.

James Roney, 33, seized the chance to enter a lorry at the rear of Debenhams at The Bridges in the early hours of March 28, Sunderland magistrates heard.

The complainant is a shop fitter by trade and had recently been working with his colleagues on a refit in the cosmetics department in Debenhams in The Bridges

Lesley Burgess, prosecuting

The vehicle had been left with its doors open so that shopfitters had easy access to items inside as they worked to get the store finished in time for customers arriving in the morning.

Prosecutor Lesley Burgess said: “The complainant is a shop fitter by trade and had recently been working with his colleagues on a refit in the cosmetics department in Debenhams in The Bridges.

“They had been working throughout the night to finish the work ahead of the store opening for customers that morning.

“As part of the work, a number of lorries were parked behind the shop.

“One vehicle was in a loading bay at the back of Debenhams.

“Inside was a large Bosch sander.

“The rear doors of the vehicle and the store had been left open to allow easy access for workers who were going back and forth.

“At 3.45am security staff monitoring the CCTV system saw Mr Roney in the loading area.

“He was observed looking through skips, before he was seen carrying a large box from the vehicle.

“Suspecting it had been stolen, security contacted police.”

The court heard officers with a police dog were nearby, saw Roney trying to hide the box around the corner and detained him.

He told them: “I’m caught bang to rights. I’ve been a stupid *******.

“There is no way I’m going to run away from that dog.”

Mr Allen identified the box, and Roney told him, “it’s all in there”

Roney, of Sea Road, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to theft of the sander – worth £300 – from a motor vehicle.

He has 30 previous convictions on his record,

Jason Smith, defending, said it was an opportunist offence.

“James was walking past and has seen the items within the open vehicle.

“It was an incredibly stupid act.”

Roney was sentenced to a conditional discharge for 12 months, and was told to pay £85 costs and a £20 surcharge.