A prolific and abusive shoplifter has been jailed – and banned from every Co-op store in Brighton and Hove when he comes out of prison.
Michael Murray, 33, of Percival Terrace, in Brighton, repeatedly targeted the Co-op in Whitehawk Road, Brighton, placing him in breach of a “community protection order”.
Murray, who was said to become aggressive when challenged, was jailed for 16 months by Judge Jeremy Gold at Hove Crown Court on Friday (25 February).
Sussex Police said today (Thursday 3 March): “A Brighton shoplifter who was caught on CCTV brazenly stealing dozens of items and abusing shopworkers when challenged has been jailed and banned from a significant number of stores in the city.
“Murray had previously pleaded guilty to 33 counts of theft and one count of failing to comply with a ‘community protection notice’.
“Thirty-one of the theft offences took place at a Co-op store in Whitehawk Road during May, June, November and December of last year, while the other two were at the Hollister store in Churchill Square.
“In some instances, Murray would return to the same store multiple times in a day and made no attempt to hide his crimes from store staff.
“When confronted, he would often become aggressive and subject them to physical and verbal abuse.
“On Thursday 16 December 2021, Murray was captured on CCTV entering the Whitehawk Road store with an empty carrier bag which he filled with meat products in full view of a shopworker, before leaving the store without paying.
“It was a pattern that was repeated over the course of several months and in keeping with Murray’s criminal record of 36 previous convictions relating to 124 offences – the vast majority of which were thefts.
“In November last year, Murray was issued with a ‘community protection order’, restricting him from entering the Whitehawk Road Co-op following other reports of repeated shoplifting.
“He was found to have breached the order a number of times, often returning to steal more products.
“Murray was sentenced to 16 months in jail and issued with a five-year ‘criminal behaviour order’, which includes bans from all Co-op stores in Brighton and Hove, the Asda superstore, at Brighton Marina, and Churchill Square shopping centre.”
Chief Inspector Andy Westwood said: “This conviction came about thanks to some really impressive teamwork between our neighbourhood policing and response officers, detectives, Business Crime Team and our partners in the business community.
“Business crime such as shoplifting has a financial impact but what often goes unseen is the difficult intimidating positions shopworkers are put in, particularly when the thefts are committed as brazenly as Murray’s.
“As a force we carry out a huge amount of work to tackle business crime, introducing measures to make reporting easier, identifying and catching repeat offenders and working with various partner agencies to tackle the root causes of this behaviour.
“I would like to commend everybody involved in bringing Murray to justice, including the victims who have supported this investigation.”
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “This is a brilliant example of how Sussex Police’s new Business Crime Team is working to identify prolific offenders who repeatedly steal from shops, abuse staff and frighten customers.
“Brazen criminal behaviour of this kind will not be tolerated in Sussex and should never be regarded as low level or petty.
“I’m determined to help local businesses be more confident in the force’s ability to take these people off our streets.
“My Safer Sussex Business Partnership involves officers and local businesses working closely together to improve Sussex Police’s response to shoplifting and abuse of workers.
“This successful prosecution is a perfect example of how progress is being made and how businesses’ confidence and safety will be improved.”