A Briton who is thought to be the UK’s most prolific shoplifter has been jailed for 18 months after racking up his 342nd criminal offence, British newspapers reported.
David Archer, 58, of North Wales, was sentenced for four shoplifting offences, including the theft of a charity collection box in aid of carers.
He also admitted two breaches of an anti-social behaviour order imposed in 2006 which, among other things, banned him from entering any charity shop in England and Wales and from possessing a charity box.
It came just a month after he was released from prison on remand for similar thefts.
Prosecutor Julie Jones said he was seen on CCTV burning a piece of string which secured the charity box to a counter at the Llandudno Junction store in N. Wales.
Defence lawyer Roger Thomas told court that one of the problems facing Archer in the past was that whenever he was released from prison he was given only £40 (Dh230), which he had to spend on essentials, he had nowhere to live and was not entitled to emergency benefits. "He is known in every shop in North Wales and there was no subterfuge involved….he is institutionalised and struggles to cope with life,” he said.
At the Bayview shopping centre in Colwyn Bay, staff knew Archer well. Security guard Michael Davies said he spent the last 12 years trying to prevent him from stealing.
"If we ever heard the name David Archer we tended to get quite excited. Ironically David Archer is a legend within himself," Davies said, adding that Archer had begun to target charity shops more and more over the years.
During trial, judge Rhys Rowlands said:”I don't know if he takes me for a fool, but I am not. I don't accept that….he is a prolific offender with an extraordinary record for a man of his age. I shudder to think quite what you have cost not only the victims of your crime, but the state over the years in trying to deal with you.”
The Judge added:”It is 48 years since you appeared before a court accused of stealing from a shop as a minor. You have a depressing record."