Serial shoplifter from Biggleswade jailed 12 months

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A serial shoplifter – with 75 previous offences under his belt – has been jailed for carrying out 18 thefts across Biggleswade and Sandy.

Ryan Collins, 22, carried out the string of thefts over a three-month period starting on February 7 this year.

On that occasion, Collins stole £45 worth of meat from the Co-op. The following day he went on to steal perfume from Boots and a charity box belonging to Subway.

After a day off, Collins’ spree resumed on February 10 when he stole a drill worth nearly £90 from Homebase.

He also sneaked into a shop staff room the same day and stole a purse containing nearly £160 cash, as well as cigarettes and a lighter.

Other thefts across the Biggleswade and Sandy area included stealing alcohol, chocolate and a coffee mug.

One charge which Collins pleaded not guilty to was stealing a woman’s handbag in Iceland in Market Square, Biggleswade, on May 6.

At a trial at Luton Magistrates’ Court yesterday, Iceland manager Reece Merchant said: “I heard a commotion going on and people shouting, one of the till girls was shouting ‘help’.

“I saw Ryan Collins, He had a wig on, I could clearly see his face. He’s very well-known across Biggleswade.”

The offender, described as having “long, Bob Marley-like” hair by the son of victim, was pursued by members of the public and the bag was returned to the owner with all contents in it.

Asked whether he had worn a disguise, Collins said: “It’s not something I’ve ever thought of, I’ve not got a wig.

“I know that was not me, I don’t know what [Merchant’s] reason was for saying that. I’ve seen the CCTV and I know that man wasn’t me.”

At the conclusion of the trial, magistrates found Collins not guilty of the offence.

Collins’ defence stated he had suffered from heroin addiction since the age of 13 and was trying to change his lifestyle. He apparently plans to leave the area and vows not to return to Biggleswade.

For the 18 other offences, Collins was given a 12 month prison sentence with a £100 victim surcharge. He will serve half the sentence before being released on licence.